Bratislava: Stur Square Story
Following story is based on information published in a beautiful book Bratislava - Svedectvo historickych pohladnic / Bratislava - Testimony of Historical Postcards.
L. Stur Square - Namestie L. Stura in Slovak, in past in German: Konigsbergerplatz, or Kronungshugelplatz, or Koronazasi Domb ter in the Hungarian language.
This is a widened space near the Danube, where there was a bay until the 18th century, the last leftover of a Danube branch, which turned here and flowed around the Grossling Isle. The development of the present square started only after the bay had been filled up in the first half of the 18th century. Since 1838 a horse drawn railway ran across the square, with a station of departure in the courtyard of the Green Tree hotel (U zeleneho stromu).
One of the oldest pictures of part of the square. In the foreground we can see a stone balustrade of the Coronation Mound. At the order of Maria Theresia the original mound was taken to pieces in 1773 and a bit further a new one was built, following the design by F. Hillebrandt. The mound was created out of a soil samples from all Hungarian districts. It was used during festive coronation ceremonies. After the transfer of coronation ceremonies to Buda the mound has lost its function and in 1870 was taken to pieces. The mound was built again after 2000.
The monument to Maria Theresia, a work of Bratislavan sculptor Jan Fadrusz, was ceremonially unveiled on 16th May 1897 in the presence of Emperor Francis Joseph I. The book contains pictures of this event.
The monument was carelessly destroyed in 1921. The impetus to its destruction was given by the increased political tension following the attempted return of the former Hungarian king Charles. There were strong antihungarian feelings behind this destruction.
In 1938, a statue of M. R. Stefanik was raised on the site of Maria Theresia`s monument, including a pylon with the sculpture of a lion holding the state coat of arms. (A lion is the Czech statehood symbol). The author of the monument was the prominent Czech sculptor Bohumil Kafka. According to the original design four pillars and four lions should have been there. Originally the lion should have been looking at the Danube and the country border, but because of tense international situation the diagonal version was at the end opted for.
The story goes that Hitler, looking from Petrzalka side of the Danube in March 1939, apparently said, "the cat must go". The lion as a symbol of destroyed Czechoslovakia disappeared in June 1940, the pylon shortly afterwards, Stefanik`s statue probably in the fifties.
General M.R. Stefanik was not a favorite hero in the eyes of communist regime. Its statue was removed and new statue of Ludovit Stur, one of the leaders of Slovak national movement in the 19th century, was raised.
The pylon with the sculpture of a lion holding the state coat of arms was recreated at the end of communist era. It is placed close to the Stur Square, in front of the Slovak National Museum. The Lion is considered to be the symbol of the Czecho-Slovak mutuality. In 2009 the Lion was moved in front of new building of Slovak National Theater, where it is exhibited again with M.R. Stefanik statue.
Stefanik's sculpture, much smaller than previous one on the Stur Square, was raised at the Bratislava Airport at the end of last millenium.
There is no place for Maria Theresia`s sculpture at the Stur Square, now. Instead of this a new symbolic commemorative Coronation Mound was built there. But this Mound was demolished soon.
Published: November 17, 2004
Updated: October 7, 2014