St. Mary’s Square

St. Mary´s Square

St. Mary´s Square (previously named Rínok, Circle Square, Franz Joseph Square, Freedom Square and Dukla Square ) an Urban Protected Area since 1987, represents the historical heart of Žilina. Because of its square shape of about 100 x 100 m and arcades (called also "laubne", continuing to the adjacent Hodža´s and Radničná Streets), it creates an inimitable atmosphere, unique in Slovakia.

The first written mention of the square is in the Žilina Book, where the name Rínok appeared in 1464. It is assumed that the houses on the square were initially wooden, some could have been brick-built. Below the buildings were stone Gothic cellars. After the great fire in 1521, the square was restored in the Renaissance style. Initially the square contained 40 houses, nowadays it contains only 32. Since 1357, thanks to King Ludovic I. the Great´s privilege, regular markets have been held here. But frequent fires changed the square´s character, such episodes occurring in 1848 and 1886, the square also suffering an earthquake in 1858.

Legends associated with the square
A baroque statue of the Virgin Mary, called the Immaculata, and placed on a stand bearing a relief of St. Florian, is situated in the middle of the square (although not in its symmetrical centre). The statue was erected in 1738 on the completion of the recatholisation of the town. The historian and archivist Peter Štanský discovered that the craftsmen responsible for the sculpting were stonemason Václav Petráš from Řetechov near Uhorský Brod and  wood carver Jozef Weismann. A Žilina citizen Jozef Matulaj provided the necessary funds for the project. The statue has been repaired several times.

In 1953 there was a plan to relocate the statue, but after a stonemason suffered a fatal fall from the scaffold, all relocation plans were aborted. In the square, there are two wells, the first one having water to a depth of 12.7 m at the House of Nobility and the second one with water to a depth of 10.4 m at the opposite side.
A pillory (a pillar of shame) was situated beside one of the wells. The square has many legends associated to it including that of connecting tunnels between the buildings. There is even a rumour that a secret tunnel leads under the square to Budatín Castle.

In the second half of the 1990s, the square underwent the last major reconstruction, during which a pool with a fountain from 1966 was removed. The square is now a vibrant centre of Žilina. It regularly hosts various cultural events (Carnival Slovakia Žilina, Medieval Day, Festival of Seniors...). Restaurants, stylish cafés and summer terraces also provide ideal settings for a variety of social gatherings.

»More information about Houses on Marianske square

Source: PhDr. Marián Mrva and TIO Žilina (researched from academic literature).

Position of the monument on the map: B4
Number of the monument on the map: 4

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