Žilina is situated in the north-west part of Slovakia, approximately 200 km from the capital city – Bratislava. With its population of 85000 it is the fourth largest city in the country and a very important industrial centre of the region.
The city lies in the valley of Váh – the longest river in Slovakia, which is actually a confluence of 3 rivers: Váh, Kysuca, Rajčanka. Mountain ranges that surround the city are: Lesser Fatra, Súľovské Vrchy, Javorníky and Kysucká Vrchovina.
Žilina Town Districts
- Mojšova Lúčka
- Považský Chlmec
- Žilinská Lehota
The region of today’s Žilina was already inhabited in the late Stone Age (around 20,000 BC.). From this period is known a seat in district Závodie. Further settlement dates back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age (Halštatské hradisko, Hallstatt fort). Slavs began to settle this territory in the 5th century. According to the legend, the first Roman church in the 9th century was built there.
The first written mention of the town comes from the year 1208, when Žilina consisted of several Slovak settlements scattered from 0.5 km to 2 km from the Church of St. Stephen. The largest of the settlements was probably located on the side of the current historical center of Žilina. Its part was a church with semicircular apse located at the place of the current Parish church – Church of the Holy Trinity (Kostol Najsvätejšej trojice). This settlemet was probably destroyed in the 13th century.
The first mention of Žilina as a city comes from the year 1312, although legally Žilina became a city before the year 1300. On 7 May 1381 the Slovak population gained equality with German colonists in charter Privilegium pro Slavis (issued by Hungarian and Polish King Louis I.). During this period originates Žilinská mestská kniha (Žilina City Paper), an important literary and legal relic. The first inscription in German comes from 1378 and the first inscription in Slovak language comes from the year 1451. The last inscription was written in 1561.
In the following centuries Žilina became a major center of crafts, trade and education. In the 17th century there were 16 guilds and about 200 workshops worked there. In the Baroque period were built Baroque monasteries and churches – Church of St. Paul on Rink, Church of St. Barbora on Kalová, Royal customs and other buildings.
In the late 19th century had a great importance for the development of the city and surroundings the construction of railway lines. Košice-Bohuminská railroad was completed on 1872 and the railroad to Bratislava was finished in 1883. Thus, Žilina became an important transport hub, what created favorable conditions for the emergence of important companies.
Žilina was one of the first cities in Slovakia, which enlisted in Martin Declaration (30 October 1918). From 12 December 1918 to 3 March 1919 was the seat of Ministry with full power for Slovakia in Žilina. Žilina was the first seat of the Slovak government and the capital of Slovakia.
Žilina experienced a rapid development after the World War II. Many factories, schools and research institutes were founded there. In 1960 the College of Transport was established, the current University of Žilina. In the present, Žilina is a complex multifunctional city and with its surroundings is the third most important industrial center in Slovakia.
The city of Žilina has an important role as a transport hub in Slovakia. It has been a crossroad of trade routes for many centuries.
Really important is the crossing of railway tracks E 42 and E 52, which according to the international agreements AGG, fulfill the function of international highways. Most of the express trains are running on the route from Bratislava to Košice. Direct train connections are to Prague, Warsaw, Katowice and Budapest.
Žilina Airport is an international airport used for air transport of Slovak and foreign airlines, corporate and private flights, flight training and sport flying, ambulance flights and special activities of Army Aviation of Slovak Republic.
Public transport in Žilina is provided by the Transport company of Žilina. In its fleets it has 44 trolleybuses and 46 buses. Public transport is performed at 8 trolley and 13 bus routes. It is charged!
One of the most beautiful and interesting sights in Žilina is its center (approximately 100×100 m), which was declared the Listed Urban Area in 1987. This center is formed by Mariánske Square (Mariánske námestie), nine streets by it, and another twelve streets, which form a circle around the square. The square is characterized by its houses, which have extended floor to arcades and beneath them were created spaces, popularly called “laubne”. In this spaces there were shops, where craftsmen worked. Houses have still preserved the original Gothic cellars. It was created before the year 1300 and all houses had gabled roofs, untill the fire in 1886.
In the middle of the square is a statue of the Virgin Mary (Immaculata), which was built in honor of re-catholisation in 1738. The statue is placed on a pedestal with a relief of St. Florian, patron of firefighters. Behind the statue is a small park. During the reconstruction of the square were also restored two historic wells, which are 12 m deep.
House with the number 1 at the square is the Town Hall of the city of Žilina. The Town Hall has undergone several modifications. Current appearance obtained the Town Hall in 1890. The last renovation was carried in 1992 and 1993. Even the Town Hall has its original Gothic cellars. On the ground floor of the Town Hall is a bust of Andrej Hlinka, a Roman-Catholic Priest and Slovak prominent. An attraction of the Town Hall is chime on the façade of the building, which plays tunes after each hour hit since 1994.
On the western side if the square is a Roman-Catholic Church of the Conversion of St. Paul and a Jesuit monastery. The two-tower church was completed in 1754. The towers are 32 m high. The main Baroque altar is decorated by the paint of St. Paul.
Budatín Castle (Budatínsky zámok) is located in the district Budatín, at the confluence of the river Váh and Kysuca. The castle is preserved and opened to the public as the seat of Považské Museum since 1956.
Budatín was built as a guard castle in the second half of the 13th century. It is built on a strategically important place, at the ford at the confluence of Váh and Kysuce, where the duty was levied. The base of the castle was a massive circular residential tower in the stone forts, which is still preserved in the layout and creates a distinctive silhouette.
The first written record, which mentions the castle as a Castrum Budetyn dates from the year 1321, when its owner Matúš Csák died. The oldest castle consisted of a cylindrical tower with the entrance on the ground floor and of other buildings made of wood and clay. The castle was surrounded by walls and a moat outside the walls. The wall, due to poor establishment, collapsed in the second mid of the 15th century.
In the early 16th century, when the castle belonged to the Súňog family, has undergone an extensive reconstruction. At that time was built a new wall and new moat surrounding larger castle complex. The castle wall created the groundwork for later southern terrace on the. Into that area were built new brick buildings, which were a part of the Upper Castle. Inside of the wall was built a large building, which formed the Lower Castle.
Other reconstructions were at the turn of the 17th and 18th century. Perhaps the most significant alteration was in the 19th and 20th century, when the owner of the castle was the Csáky family. A fire in 1849 damaged mainly the southern and western part of the Baroque castle. The Csáky family owned the castle until the year 1945.
Church of St. Paul the Apostle
Kostol Obrátenia sv. Pavla Apoštola (Church of St. Paul the Apostle) with its two towers belongs to architectural dominants of the square. The jesuits started to build it in 1743 and ended in 1754. Kláštor kapucínov (Jesuit Monastery) also built in mid-18th century is another fascinating building in Žilina.
Church of St. Stephen the King
The oldest and most valuable preserved architectural monument in Žilina is Church of St. Stephen the King (Kostol sv. Štefana kráľa) which lies in the part of the city called Dolné Rudiny. According to the preserved building blocks, the late-Romanesque was built around the year 1230.
In the second mid of the 13th century, a larger nave with three windows with the entrance from the south side was built to the small one-nave church. The walls of this slightly larger nave church preserved unchanged. Church has Romanesque windows, stone baptistery and wall paintings, which are in Byzantine-Romanesque style from the late 13th and early 14th century. It is enclosed by a stone wall with an entrance gate and a circular bastion from the mid of the 16th century.
Really valuable and particularly notable is the interior of this church. Interesting are mainly the medieval paintings coming from the year 1260. On the arches is a rib vaults illusion painting. Triumphal arch of the apse shows a multi-colored broken stripe with painted narrows. It is a unique way of solving the interior partition of the church in Slovakia.
The rare paintings were restored in 1956 and 1957. In the church are painted multi-colored circular consecration crosses, connected with the church consecration. To the west wall was built a wooden empora on two columns. Above the wooden empora is a painting with the royal patrons of Hungary, St. Stephen and St. Imrich with Madonna, which dates from the late 19th century. On the five fields of the front part are paintings of Resurrection of the Christ and four kings – saints. In the northeastern part of the nave is a brick baptistery. Inside the enclosure of the church was built a Chapel of Corpus Christi in the 15th century.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral or Parish Church (Katedrála Najsvätejšej Trojice) is a Roman-Catholic church in the historic center of Žilina. It is an important monument on the border of the monument reserve in Žilina. The church was built around the year 1400. It is located at the eastern edge of the historical center, above the Square of A. Hlinka, at the street Horný val. The church became a cathedral in 2008 according to the terminology of the Roman-Catholic Church.
The building was first mentioned as a church in 1423, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Change of the patronage came in the late 16th century, when the Podmanický family turned into a castle. Around the year 1530, the owner of Žilina Burián Svetlovský from Vlčovo, has built a citadel tower next to the church. Originally, it was called the New Tower (today’s Burian Tower).
In the mid of the 16th century, when the armed robber knights twice seized and burned Žilina, the church was rebuilt into a fort. The church was completely burned down in fire in 1678, and even the bells at the New Tower were melt. The church was renovated in 1687 by Palatine Paul Eszterházi and in 1690 was restored by the Jesuits.
Chapel of St. John Nepomocký was built to the west side of the church in 1762. Its main purpose was the position of the Holy Sepulchre. Then the two towers (the Parish Church tower and the New Tower) got the same Baroque roof.
Another landmark of the city is the Burian Tower, 46 m tall. The tower served as a belfry, but currently is not used. This Reneissance building was built in 1530. Prismatic multi-storey tower is divided by small windows with Gothic cornices. During the Roman-Catholic Church adaptation in 1890, the tower obtained its current character and in 1941 was built a new viewing gallery.
View to both towers from the Square of A. Hlinka is the most typical view for Žilina, the symbol of Žilina. It often appears on postcards and various publications.
Church of St.Barbora
Church of St. Barbora (Kostol sv. Barbory), also known as the Franciscan Church, is a remarkable Baroque building in Žilina. The church was built by the members of the Franciscan Order in 1704-1730 and located on then outskirt of the town, because the Franciscans wanted to indicate the interrelatedness of simple people.
Around the time, when the tower was built (1728), there was also established crypts with the main altar below the tower and the Loreto. In the crypts below the altar and tower there are buried members of the Order and in the crypts below the Loreto are buried laymen.
This cultural monument is unique in Slovakia. The only two organs of the well known Slovak builder of these instruments, fratre Peregrina Werner from the 18th century, are in this chruch. It consists of large organ located in the main chorus and a smaller, which is divided into two parts at the sides of the main altar. This was used by monks, like the oratory and space behind the altar for their own devotions.
The internal Baroque device – altars, statues, pulpit, smooth and twisted side columns and altarpieces, are also very valuable. Pictures on the main altar were painted by P. Konrád Švestka in 1891. The altar painting shows St. Barbora. On this picture is also painted the tower of the Budatín castle as it looked at that time – no roof. Above this picture is a smaller painting of beheaded St. Barbora. A part of the original church interior is the Loretto Chapel.
Neological Synagogue in Žilina
Neological synagogue in Žilina (Neologická synagóga v Žiline) is a synagogue in Hurbanova Street. It is a work of art of German architect prof. dr. Peter Behrens, built in 1929-1931 (in the period of Slovak Modernism). The architect’s inspiration was the Rachel’s tomb, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Nowadays the synagogue is a unique monument of its kind in Slovakia.
Neology Synagogue was built in close proximity to the historical center of Žilina. It is located on the crossing of two streets on a slightly sloping terrain. Within the environment put the author this object by terraces, what resolved by wide staircase before the entrance on the north side.
The dominant element of the exterior is a massive block of the central part which rises from the horizontal base. The basic shape of this block is a cubus, which sides are broken down by eleven verticals window openings. Essential parts of the building are distinguished by using different materials. The central part is smoothly plastered, while the horizontal base is lined with irregular quadratic stone. Monumentality itself is highlighted by the block character of the central part with a massive dome, which recalls the Eastern architecture.
The most significant interior area is the main hall with vaulted dome. Indoor space has on its two sides longitudinal halls, which form a rectangular. The main room was built for men and had 450 seats. For women served the empora with 300 seats. Above the altar was a space allotted for chorus and organ.
The dome with the gold Star of David, takes a significant role inside. Floors are paved by Terazzo with carpet pattern. The light was also mediated by artificially bronze candlesticks, which were combined with reflectors illuminating the dome. The original interior was blue (benches, doors, windows).
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Mestské divadlo (City Theatre)
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State Sinfonietta Žilina
State Sinfonietta Žilina (Štátny komorný orchester Žilina) is the only Mozart type orchestra in Slovakia. The orchestra was established in 1974 in Žilina. It had 35 members, mostly graduates of music academies in Prague, Brno and Bratislava. The first principal conductor was Eduard Fischer.
In 1977 the orchestra gained an international recognition when it became the festival’s orchestra of the Salzburger Festspiele. Shortly thereafter the orchestra received an invitation to the Prague Spring. After that followed concerts at major festivals throughout Europe: Vienna Festival, Haydn Festival in Vienna, Sofia Music Weeks, Festa Musica in Assisi, Catalan Festival, Festival de Bonaguil in France, Music in Old Krakow and others.
The orchestra has given over 2,000 concerts in almost all European countries, in Tunisia, Japan, USA and Brazil. It has performed in many famous concerts halls, such as the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Prague House of Artist, Tonhalle Dusseldorf, Komische Oper in Berlin and others.
A lot of famous artists worked together with the orchestra, such as conductors Claus Peter Flor, Ondrej Lenárd, Oliver Dohnányi, Leoš Svárovský, Vladimír Válek, Ľudovít Rajter, Petr Vronský, Eve Queler, Peter Maag, Tsugio Maeda, Vincent La Selva, Marco Armiliato, Christian Benda, Dwight Bennett, Urs Schneider, Christian Pollack, Herman Engels, Peter Breiner, Bartholomeus Henri Van de Velde, Alexander Schwinck, Georg Mais and others.
The orchestra has created many recordings with works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Haydn, Hummel, Verdi, J. Strauss, Antonín Dvořák and other Czech and Slovak composers. The orchestra collaborated with music publishers Opus, Donau, Naxos, Brilliant, BMG and others.
Považské Museum (Považské múzeum) is located in the area of Budatín Castle on the northern outskirt of Žilina, is primarly a tinker museum.
The museum is entertaining research and documentation of tinkering since its inception in 1942. It charts the historical and contemporary manifestations of craft in the entire territory of Slovakia and abroad. The museum concentrates an amount of tinker tools, utilities and art objects made of wire and sheet metal and various curiosities of wire as models of vehicles or graceful figures showing people of tinker region in the early 20th century. Tinker Museum fund consists of more than 5,000 pieces and creates a unique and the largest collection of its kind in the world.
The most precious exhibits include the collection of naïve art, which consists of various dimensional wire sculptures of people, fabulous beings, animals and birds. Rich is also the collection of written and photographic material and is forming the fund of the 19th and 20th century with tinker themes.
The most beautiful and most interesting exhibits were exposed in a permanent exhibition of tinkering until 2006. Because of the restoration works on the Budatín Castle it was closed. Currently, the museum presents its collections in the Municipal Office of Veľké Rovné, Tinker Historical Center, located nearby mountains Javorníky. Považské Museum organizes the Meeting of Tinker Masters every year in June.
Považská galéria umenia
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