National cultural monument: County House – Turiec Gallery. The building is open to the public.
The County House is the second oldest building in Martin. The exact year of its construction is not known, but it is believed that the very first building was constructed on this site more than 300 years ago. It was a single-storey L-shaped building facing south and east. The building underwent major modifications after 1772, when the seat of the Turiec County moved from Sklabinský Castle to Martin. New spaces were needed: a large assembly hall, archives, treasury, prison, and more. After the reconstruction, the building had a U-shape and another floor was added.
In 1843 and 1881, there were two major fires in Martin, and the County House was severely damaged too. After each of the fires, the building needed to be reconstructed and some building modifications were necessary. During these reconstructions, the main entrance was relocated to the south side of the building. On the east side, the gate to the courtyard, which had been there since the very beginning, was bricked in. The courtyard disappeared and the building acquired its current rectangular floor plan as well as the current Baroque-Classicist facade. Apart from the vaults, there are no significant decorations in the interior of the building. A comprehensive restoration took place in the years 1980-1987, and spaces in the attic were added to the three previously existing floors.
In the past, the building had always been used for administrative purposes. The last administrative institution which had a seat in the building was the district people’s committee. The historic meeting room was used for weddings, and weddings have been taking place in this room until today. Since 1983, the Turiec Gallery has been housed in the building. The building also has a garden, but this is hidden behind a high wall.
The inhabitants of the Turiec county had a special privilege within Hungary. They were allowed to cover the negotiating table with a red cloth, unlike the other counties that had to cover the table with a green cloth. This was done in memory of a tragic event resulting in the death of two officials of the Turiec county who were defending public interests. This happened during the Rákóczi Uprising, when the Turiec county spoke out against this political-military act which was weakening the country, and they also advocated that the other counties should stand up in resistance too. This “revolt” against Rákóczi was on the agenda in the Diet of Hungary in the town of Onód in 1707, and Rákóczi’s enraged supporters attacked the official representatives of the Turiec county. They slashed the deputy county headKrištofOkoličáni with sabers and subsequently executed his assistant, MelicharRakovský.
Text: PhDr. Milan Gonda
Actual photos gifted by Mgr. Ján Farský
Historical photos gifted by Ing. Vladimír Bullo