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Žilina is a town in Central Slovakia with population of over 80,000, and the capital city of the Žilina administrative region.
Zilina is the fourth largest town in Slovakia.
Recently there was a large investment from Kia Motors Company in Zilina. By mid 2007, Kia expect to be producing 300 000 units per year! A large automobile factory is being built in a nearby area and a lot of Kia employees from Korea have moved to Zilina. Because of this, you can find specialized Korean food sections in some larger supermarkets and some Korean restaurants.
Zilina is an important transport junction point linking south (Bratislava, Vienna) with north (Kraków, Warsaw) and east (Kosice, Ukraine) with west (Ostrava, Prague).
The historical center of the city, reconstructed in the early 1990s is protected as a city monument reserve (Slovak: Mestská pamiatková rezervácia). It is centered on the Mariánske námestie and Andrej Hlinka squares. The Mariánske námestie square has 106 arcade passages and 44 burgher houses along the whole square. It is dominated by the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, the old building of the city council, and the baroque statue of the Virgin Mary. Nearby is the Church of the Holy Trinity, a sacral building built around 1400, which is since February 2008 the cathedral of the Diocese of Žilina.
The Church of Saint Stephen the King (Slovak: Kostol Sv. Štefana krála) is the oldest architectural relic of town Zilina,located just 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) southwest from the center. It is one of the first Romanesque churches in Slovakia, dating back to the years 1200-1250, by the experts. The legend goes that the Hungarian King István I himself ordered to build it. Valuable is the inner decoration of the church. Wall paintings originate from approximately 1260; in 1950 they were discovered and later on restored by the Žilina fine artist Mojmír Vlkoláček. Nowadays it is a popular place for wedding ceremonies.
Other landmarks around the city include:
- Budatín Castle, housing Považie Museum with its tinker trade exhibition
- The wooden Roman Catholic church of St. George in the Trnové section (one of the few outside north-eastern Slovakia)
- The Orthodox synagogue, which now houses the Museum of Jewish culture
- The New Synagogue, now a cultural centre
The city is a starting point for various locations of western and eastern Slovakia, including hiking trails into the Lesser Fatra and Greater Fatra mountains. Other locations of interest include Bojnice Castle, Strečno, Orava region, and the villages of Čičmany and Vlkolínec.
The area around today's Žilina was inhabited in the late Stone Age (about 20,000 BC). In the 5th century Slavs started to move into the area. However, the first written reference to Žilina was in 1208 as terra de Selinan. From the second half of the 10th century until 1918, it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary.
In the middle of the 13th century terra Sylna was the property of the Cseszneky de Milvány family. The city started to develop around year 1300, and according to records in 1312 it was already a town. In 1321, King Károly I made Žilina a free royal town. On 7 May 1381 King Lajos I issued Privilegium pro Slavis which made the Slav inhabitants equal to the Germans by allocating half of the seats at the city council to Slavs. The town was burned in 1431 by the Hussites.
During the 17th century, Žilina gained position as a center of manufacturing, trade and education and during the baroque age many monasteries and churches were built as well as the Budatín Castle. In the Revolutions of 1848, Slovak volunteers, part of the Imperial Army, won a battle near the city against Hungarian honveds and gardists.
The city boomed in the second half of the 19th century as new railway tracks were built: the Kassa Oderberg Railway was finished in 1872 and the railway to Bratislava (Pozsony in Hungarian) in 1883, and new factories started to spring up, such as the drapery factory Slovena (1891) and the Považie chemical works (1892).
It was one of the first municipalities to sign the Martin Declaration (30 October 1918), and until March 1919 it was the seat of the Slovak government. On 6 October 1938, shortly after the Munich Agreement, the autonomy of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia was declared in Žilina.
During World War II, Žilina was captured on 30 April 1945 by Czechoslovak and Soviet troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front, after which it again became part of Czechoslovakia.
After Second World War, the city continued its development with many new factories, schools and housing projects being built. It was the seat of the Žilina Region from 1949–1960 and again since 1996.
Today Žilina is the third largest city in Slovakia, the third most important industrial center and the seat of a university, the Žilinská univerzita (founded in 1953). Since 1990 the historical center of the city has been largely restored and the city has built trolleybus lines.
Žilina lies in the north temperate zone and has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. It is characterized by a significant variation between hot summers and cold, snowy winters. The average temperature in July is 18 °C (64 °F), in January, −4 °C (25 °F). The average annual rainfall is 600–700 mm (23.6–27.6 in); most of the rainfall occurs in June and in the first half of July. Snow cover lasts from 60 to 80 days per year.
Climate data for Žilina
|Average high °C (°F)||0|
|Average low °C (°F)||−5|
|Average precipitation cm (inches)||2.85|
|Source: MSN Weather|
Žilina lies at an altitude of 342 metres (1,122 ft) above sea level and covers an area of 80.03 square kilometres (30.9 sq mi). It is located in the Upper Váh region (Slovak: Horné Považie) at the confluence of three rivers: Váh, flowing from the east into the south-west, Kysuca, flowing from the north and Rajčanka rivers from the south, in the Žilina Basin. The city is surrounded by these mountain ranges: Malá Fatra, Súľovské vrchy, Javorníky and Kysucká vrchovina. Protected areas nearby include the Strážov Mountains Protected Landscape Area, the Kysuce Protected Landscape Area, and the Malá Fatra National Park. There are two hydroelectric dams on the Váh river around Žilina: the Žilina dam in the east and the Hričov dam in the west.
Žilina is the main industrial hub of the upper Váh river basin region, with a fast-growing economy as north-west Slovakia's business center with large retail and construction sectors.
By far the biggest and most important employer is Korean car maker Kia Motors. By 2009, the plant produced 300,000 cars a year and had up to 3,000 employees. Kia Motors' direct investment in the Žilina car plant amounts to over 1.5 billion USD. In 2009 the Žilina car plant produced Kia cee’d, Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 car models. Kia Motors is further upgrading its capacity to be ready to produce engines for a sister company, Hyundai, located near Ostrava in the Czech Republic with a planned investment of 200 million USD.
Žilina is also the seat of the biggest Slovak construction and transportation engineering company, Vahostav. The chemical industry is represented by Považské chemické závody and Tento, a paper mill company. Siemens Mobility also has an engineering center in Žilina.
- Tourist information office, Hlinkovo namesti square, +421 (0)41 723 31 86, till end of June: Monday-Friday 8-17, Saturday 9-12, Sunday closed, in high season Monday-Friday 8-18, Saturday-Sunday 9-14.
- on their website: practical contacts, tips for tips, prospects to download, list of cultural events, ...
- Free wifi on squares: Hlinkovo and Marianske
- Amazing photogallery of everything in Zilina [www] including photos of hotels, shops, parks, hills, quarters, transport, schools, churches, industries, health centers.
- Pošta Žilina 1 (main post office), Sládkovičova 14 (opposite Nova Synagoga and Rosenfeld Palace), +421 415126210. mon-fri 07:00-19:00, sat 08:00-12:00, closed sundays. Send letters and packages, simcards and credit, point of sale for ticketportal.sk
Transportation - Get In
- Železničná stanica Žilina (central train station), Hviezdoslava street.
Žilina is located on the mainline Bratislava-Košice and as such has frequent connections in both directions, as well to the Czech Republic. A direct night train Prague to Kiev (one way) also passes through Žilina early in the morning providing a direct and comfortable (albeit slow) connection from Ukrainian cities like Lviv and Vinnica.
From Bratislava trains can be caught from the main train station (Bratislava Hlavna Stanica) approximately every one to one and a half hours. Fares from €6.
From the Czech Republic there are almost hourly connections, operated by Slovak National Railways, RegioJet and LeoExpress. Fares from Prague start at €8, 5-6 hours.
From Poland and points further north, a change is necessary in either Bohumin or Ostrava.
From Hungary, change in Bratislava (Budapest) or Košice (Miskolc-Debrecen).
Žilina is a junction point for many places in the region. See Cestovné Poriadky for details on all train and bus connections. Private train companies can offer very competitive fares if you book online in advance.
From some towns in Czech Republic, Poland or Slovakia could be easier to catch bus than train or it adds additional connection. See [www] (available in English also) for train and bus connections in Slovakia and countries around.
There are 3 European roads crossing in Zilina. Road E75 from Bratislava to Zilina as highway D1. Road E50 from Brno continues to Kosice as highway D1. Road E442 from Olomouc.
Žilina has an airport but currently it is only used for private aviation and the occasional charter flight, so any journey to Zilina will involve a train, bus or taxi journey of at least two hours. Nearby airports with cheap flights are, in order of convenience, Poprad (seasonal), Bratislava, Brno and Katowice.
Transportation - Get Around
The centre is pedestrianised and also small enough to explore on foot. Many areas have also been made wheelchair accessible.
By public transport
The city operates 8 trolleybus routes and 9 normal bus routes throughout Žilina, its suburbs, and neighbouring villages. Check dpmz.sk for a route map and timetables.
The city has quite a few hills, holes in the road and fast drivers, making cycling around sometimes a fun challenge. However in some areas the city has recently also invested in creating bicycle-friendly streets and cyclepaths, and outside of peak hours traffic is low so you can have the streets to yourself.
Cyklodielna Recykel repairs and sells second-hand bicycles.
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- cheese - get local cheese from cheese shops, much better and fresher than from supermarkets. E.g. Syrmix on Narodna street or Kuzmanyho Street, shops close to market
- fruit and vegetable market - during season good source of vegetable and fruits, sometime you can find here locals with only their things (not from big stores). Over corner of Kuzmanyho and Halkova street.
Cheap cheese typical for region:
- "bryndza" - soft cheese (great on fresh bread)
- "korbáčiky", "nite" - great snack
- "oštiepok" - smoked sheep cheese, similar to Polish "oscypek"
- "bryndzové halušky" - pasta dumplings with bryndza (soft sheep cheese)
- "strapačky" - pasta dumplings with saur kraut
Every restaurant has non-smoking part (by law).
During lunch most of restaurants serve 'menu' for about €3-4 (including soup).
- Slovak pub, Halkova 7 (close to market and Kuzmanyho street). Quiet place, typical Slovak dishes, good prices
- Trinity - Asian reasturant, Kuzmanyho street 100. Nice looking restaurant. They have 'menus' from 11 till 23 for about €3.50 including soup.
- Slovenska koliba, Kuzmanyho. Typical Slovak looking building with typical Slovak dishes
- Trojka restaurant, Horný val 8/17. Good place to meet, drink and have something to eat. They have also English menu card.
- Trattoria restaurant, J. Vuruma street (close to Marianske namesti square). Pork or chicken escalopes (wiener schnitzel), chicken and pasta dish, a meat and rice dish, served with potatoes and vegetable and a drink, all for a very reasonable 4 €. Pleasant little place.
Coffe & Drink
There are many pubs, restaurants and tearooms around town. Beer is especially cheap at just over €1 per half litre.
There are a few pubs and bars on the main square. There is an Irish bar, aptly named 'Guinness' and also a disco style bar called Royales.
Typical Slovak (and Czech) soft drink is Kofola. Kind of coke drink, not so sweet.
- Trojka pub, Horný val 8/17. Good place to meet, drink and have something to eat. They have also English menu card.
- Beervana, Kuzmányho 104/8, , e-mail: [email protected]. mon-thu 16:00-0:00, fri-sat 16:00-02:00. Twelve different beers on tap, changing regularly. Also other drinks, snack foods and pizza on the menu. A bit expensive by local standards but worth it for the assortment and ambiance. English speaking staff and menu. Good for groups.
Sights & Landmarks
Take a stroll in the historic centre and admire the old churches.
- From steps in front of Farsky kostel (church up from Hlinkovo namestie square) you can see beautiful mountains around - Mala Fatra.
- Museum of Art Zilina, Ul. Štefánikova č.2. €3, €1,50 with discount.
- Budatín Castle, Topoľová 1. Beautiful 13th century castle with a nice park on the confluence of two rivers. The castle is currently closed for reconstruction, but the park is open.
- Galéria plusminusnula, J. M. Hurbana 220/11 (next to Nova Synagoga). mon-fri 12:00-17:00. Exhibition space for contemporary art, with a new exhibition every month.Free.
Things to do
- Zilina dam (Vodni dilo) (in east part of town). Do running, walking, inline skating, cycling, beach volleyball
- Lesopark Žilina, Veľký diel (between quarters Solinky and Vlcince). Walking, running, barbecue, high-rope adventure park [www]
- Stanica cultural node (train station Zariecie). In the building of old and still operating train station Zilina-Zariecie. Concerts, theater performances, films (often in English or with English subtitles), festivals, exhibitions, discussions, bar.
- Dom umenia Fatra (concert hall), Jozefa Vuruma 139, . Weekly classical performances by the State Chamber Orchestra Žilina. Tickets at navstevnik.sk from €5.
Like any central European town, be practical. The railway station is not the greatest place to "have" to stop over in for any length of time based on experience. Suggest avoid waiting room, and stay near kiosks. Otherwise, Zilina is fine. Enjoy!