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Statue of Maria Theresa returns to Bratislava

A STATUE of Empress Maria Theresa stood in what is now Ľudovít Štúr Square in Bratislava for more than 20 years before it was destroyed in 1921. But an initiative undertaken by Bratislavský okrášľovací spolok (the Bratislava Beautification Association) has brought a smaller replica of the original statue back to the square, only a few metres from where the original stood.

A replica of a 19th-century statue of Maria Theresa now graces Bratislava's waterfront. (Source: SITA)

A STATUE of Empress Maria Theresa stood in what is now Ľudovít Štúr Square in Bratislava for more than 20 years before it was destroyed in 1921. But an initiative undertaken by Bratislavský okrášľovací spolok (the Bratislava Beautification Association) has brought a smaller replica of the original statue back to the square, only a few metres from where the original stood.

About 50 people gathered along Vajanského nábrežie on September 3 to help unveil the new sculpture that is only one-third the size of the original. The unveiling followed an extensive public debate about whether a statue of the same size should return to the site where the original statue of Maria Theresa was installed in 1897, the TASR newswire wrote.

People were asked to express their opinions in a poll as well as to sign a petition asking that a statue of Maria Theresa be returned to the site where its original was demolished by Czechoslovak legionnaires in 1921. The idea has both champions and detractors, including Robert Fico, chairman of Smer party, who has commented that he dislikes the idea of removing the large statue of Ľudovít Štúr, the leader of the Slovak national revival in the 19th century, and who is considered responsible for codification of the Slovak language, from the square now bearing his name.

Representatives of the Bratislava Beautification Association, however, have a different view. “It seems absurd to me to preserve the status quo when in fact the statue placed in this square was replaced three times in a hundred years. Even Tibor Bártfay, sculptor of the Štúr statue, has identified with the idea of moving it to Námestie slobody (Freedom Square) where it logically belongs,” said Pavol Susa of the association, as quoted by TASR. Susa said the club’s goal is to reconstruct the statue of Maria Theresa as well as the square where it originally stood based on period photos and documents and by using the same materials as in 1897.

The original statue of Maria Theresa was sculpted by Ján Fadrusz. The smaller replica installed on September 3 is the work of sculptor Martina Zimanová.

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