Construction of the Hungarian Royal State Eye Hospital in Žilina began base on the approval of the Ministry of Finance for designs drawn up in 1912. The Town of Žilina issued a building permit on 10/02/1913 and the hospital was completed in July 1914. Land for its construction was provided by the town. Construction was carried out by the Žilina builders Karol Grün and Son based on designs by the Budapest architect Alfréd Jendrassik (01/07/1866, Pest – 21/05/1935 Budapest), who specialised in public health buildings.
The establishment of the hospital was largely the achievement of its first director and the long-serving head of its ophthalmic department Dr. Vojtech Spanyol (1883–1980), who began treating the infectious eye disease trachoma, which occurred particularly in the Žilina and especially in Kysuce. The street leading to the present-day Faculty Hospital and Polyclinic in Žilina has been named after him since 1992. Vojtech Spanyol came from an old Žilina family with Spanish roots (they were called the Hispanyol family in the 18th century). He was born in a burgher’s house on the main square whose address is now Marianské námestie No. 3. He studied at grammar school in Žilina, Banská Bystrica and Szolnok. In 1907 he graduated from the Medical Faculty of Budapest University, where he had an internship in the ophthalmic clinic. Thanks to his contacts in Budapest he won support for the construction of a modern hospital in his hometown. When it was completed in 1914, he became the hospital’s chief doctor and its director until 1939. He returned as director from 1945 to 1951 and remained head of the ophthalmic department until 1962.
The eye hospital was built on a large scale as the most modern health care institution of its time. It also made good use of below-ground spaces, which housed service flats, a boiler room that was one of the first in a public building to provide central heating and hot water for the kitchens and sanitation, a laundry with a mangle and storerooms. The ground floor was the men’s ward and there was also an office and flat for the caretaker, bathrooms and WCs. The women’s ward was on the upper floor. Besides the chief doctor, Dr Spanyol, the staff of the hospital included several secondary doctors and a number of external doctors who had studied the relevant field.
The hospital opened with 80 beds and 5 years later it had 140 beds and was the largest eye hospital in Czechoslovakia. During the First World War, from 1914 to 1916, a military institute for treating infectious diseases as established at the hospital but it then went back to treating diseases of the eye. Since then, the building has been continuously the seat of the ophthalmic department with its operating theatres and consulting rooms. For a short while this historic building was the home of the otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and urology wards. At the time of writing in 2015, the building contained – in addition to the original eye department – a centre for one-day outpatient otorhinolaryngology treatment, medical and radiological oncology and an outpatient centre for pneumology and phthisiology (lung diseases).
On the 90th anniversary of the opening of the State Eye Hospital, a memorial plaque honouring the founder was unveiled on the historic building.
Source: Mgr. Peter Štanský a Milan Novák
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: C5