Ľudovít Štúr Park

Ľudovít Štúr Park

Until the mid-1930s, the site of the present park was a muddy meadow into which the unregulated Všivák Brook frequently overflowed. The area was formerly known as Svinské pažite – swine meadows – because pigs were kept here. The town began contouring the site in 1935 but major work began in 1939, when the town decided to build new parks and gardens on its land. Until then, there had only been the park that is now SNP Park and a smaller park near the railway station. The new parks would be at the Studničky springs, by the Protestant church, a “Park of Sport” in front of the football stadium, a park on today’s Mariánske námestie with a fountain and what is now the Ľudovít Štúr Park, then called the Slovak Freedom Gardens.

The town had already drawn up plans for gardens here in 1935. They had been designed by one of the best landscape designers then working in Czechoslovakia, Jozef Kumpán (1885-1961).  His plan was not implemented in full, however, and there was a long delay until the park was built. In 1939 the town hired Jozef Červinka as its new chief horticulturalist. He had previously been employed building parks at the spa of Rajecké Teplice since 1932. The town horticultural service that he now led had been established at the start of the 20th century. Its first headquarters was the town farm, whose site is now under the Aupark shopping centre on Bernolákova ulica. In the 1920s town horticultural service moved to new premises close to where today’s park is on Tajovského ulica, where it had greenhouses and a dwelling house where Červinka and his family stayed. The new 39.1-hectare park was then built under Červinka’s supervision. The adjoining Kamélia Restaurant was built at the same time. It was named after the wife of the then mayor, Vojtech Tvrdý.

Construction of the park began in 1940 and was completed in 1941. Červinka, dozens of his co-workers and other town employees created the park out of a neglected space, where there were rubbish dumps, marshes and the unregulated flow of the Všivák Brook. The town channelled the Všivák Brook into effectively its present course at a cost of 600,000 crowns. They removed several wagonloads of earth, levelled a small hill and then landscaped the site into the present form of the park. 25,000 flowers and a variety of trees and bushes were planted. The opening ceremony of the park and the Kamélia Restaurant in 1941 was attended by the then president of the Slovak Republic, Jozef Tisa.

Jozef Červinka (1904-1945), the main creator of the park, was shot in January 1945 by fascist German soldiers. After liberation later in 1945, the Kamélia Restaurant and the park were named Červinkov in his honour.

In 1944 decorative electric lamps were installed in the park which had previously been on the balustrade in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity in the town centre since 1941. These also served as pedestals for flowerpots.

A very popular part of the park was the game reserve, which had a stag called Mišo with 18 points and a roe deer. The game reserve was initially set up in the front part of the park in front of the restaurant in 1959/1960 and then moved behind the summer cinema in the rear part of the park.  After the stag gored the chief horticulturalist Mr Hirner, the game reserve was cancelled, and the animals were released into the wild.

Another major attraction in the park was the aeroplane that stood in front of the restaurant from 1969 to 1973. The Lisunov Li-2 aeroplane was used as café and restaurant with 22 seats. It shut down in 1972 when the renovation of the adjacent Kamélia Restaurant was completed, and the aeroplane was removed to the Dukla Museum where it can still be seen in the museum complex at Vyšný Komárnik.

An amphitheatre / summer cinema was built on a part of the original park in 1950–1952. It was refurbished and modernised in 1959. The amphitheatre operated under the name Kino Mier (Peace Cinema) until 2004, it was demolished in 2005 and in 2010 a residential complex called Amfiteáter was built on the site. A very popular event in the summer months was the Workers’ Film Festival which would show various feature films in the evenings. The amphitheatre was also used for performances by folklore dance and singing ensembles, music groups, operas and social events. It was not unusual to have several thousand spectators at a film screening and the largest audience ever was 8,500 people.

In 1946 the park was renamed in honour of Stalin. In 1963 it was given the official name Sad mieru – Peace Park – though most people in Žilina called it Bôrický park. In 2012 it was renamed the Ľudovít Štúr Park when Štúr’s statue was installed here. The statue was first displayed in 2005 on open ground on what is now Bernolákova ulica but construction of a shopping centre meant that it had to leave the site and the park was chosen as a decent setting for it.

The park was repaired and modified several times. The last major refurbishment was in 2016–2017. An opening ceremony for the refurbished park took place on 06 November 2017. A new fountain, a Wi-Fi network, new benches, a children’s play area and new trees and bushes were amongst the new elements.

Source: Mgr. Peter Štanský

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