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HISTORY TALKS...

Remembering a special memorial to a noble woman

A MONUMENT was built in 1905 in the centre of the eastern Slovak town of Rožňava as a tribute to Franciska Andrássy, a member of one of the most important noble families in the Gemer region. Together with her husband, she used her power and fortune mainly to develop the whole region surrounding Rožňava.

A MONUMENT was built in 1905 in the centre of the eastern Slovak town of Rožňava as a tribute to Franciska Andrássy, a member of one of the most important noble families in the Gemer region. Together with her husband, she used her power and fortune mainly to develop the whole region surrounding Rožňava.

It is well-known that the Andrássys donated around 50 million crowns to charitable causes, an enormous sum of money then. It was used for various purposes, e.g. scholarships for students in need, social aid, and construction of hospitals, schools or museums. After floods in the Zemplín region, whole villages were rebuilt thanks to them. Franciska had become so popular in Gemer that the memorial, designed in Art Nouveau style by Ján Horvay and Edmund Szamovolszký, was erected through community fund-raising.

Also worth mentioning is the later history of this masterpiece. It miraculously survived the period of anti-Hungarian and anti-monarchy sentiments that broke out after the creation of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1919 and it also avoided removal for most of the Communist regime. However, 1973 proved fatal, as the authorities inexplicably decided to replace Franciska with a Communist monument that looked just the same as hundreds of others that had been erected throughout the country. The sculpture was dismantled and taken away in spite of the public outrage and its pedestal was blown up with dynamite and the nice fence destroyed.

Fortunately when 1989 finally brought freedom again, one of the first things the inhabitants of Rožňava did was to return the memorial to its original location, as shown in this postcard from 1908.


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