Piazza Castello from Marostica (Italy)

Every two years, in the second week of September, Maroustica hosts a chess game. The place of wooden figurines is taken by living people, and the score board is the very square of the tiny medieval town, whose pavement was thought out especially for this purpose. For this reason, the Maroustica Piazza Castello is also called Piazza degli Scacchi. The story goes that, in medieval times, two young nobles, Rinaldo D’Angarano and Vieri da Vallanora, fell madly in love with Lionora, the daughter of the local lord. The custom of the time demanded that the girl’s fate be decided through a duel. But the father does not wish to make enemies, he wishes no blood spilt, so he forbids the duel and proposes a chess game in its stead. The winner was to become the husband of the coveted Lionora. The loser would not lose, but instead win the hand of the younger daughter, Oldrada. Of course, the story has no basis in historical fact. Not one of the characters in the story ever existed, just as there was no chess match in the medieval Marostica, a town called in the local Venetian dialect, Maròstega. But there was a writer and an architect called Mario Mirko Vucetich from Dalmatia, who imagined the entire story right after the Second World War. And the local chess club found it proper to consider the story true and to organise, every two years, a competition with living people as chess pieces in the scenic square and with real medieval origins of the tiny town of Marostica, from northern Italy.

Domplatz from Passau (Germany)

The urban structure is dictated by a geographical position, one of the most spectacular in a European city. Passau is situated on a spit of land, at the confluence between the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz, each with different coloured waters. The Domplatz lies at the highest point of the city. An advantage, for Passau is threatened by flooding every year. The square takes shape in 1150, and from 1155, due to the donation of the bishop Konrad von Babenberg, it becomes property of the cathedral, with the condition being that clerical houses should be built on its free sides. The 14 buildings which appear thus are affected by the great fires of 1662 and 1680, and then rebuilt by Italian architects in the late baroque style. In 1824, the statue of Emperor Maximilian I of Bavaria is placed in the square. Thus, for the first time in its history, the square becomes a public one and wins the status of official town square. It is redeveloped after 2013. The pavement disappears, replaced with fine gravel, pointing to past historical eras. The lighting is spectacular, one of the most accomplished in Europe. It focuses on the façade of the cathedral, leaving the square and the rest of the buildings in half-light. It is a subtle dark-light game, a game of the past, when cities did not have public lighting, with the future. The effect is that of a scene from a Baroque play

Masarykovo náměstí from Třeboň (Czech Republic)

Třeboň, called Wittingau in German, has one of the best preserved medieval squares in Bohemia. In fact, only the shape dates from medieval times, since the current state, with Renaissance and Baroque houses, is due to the flourishing fish trade of the 14th century. Starting from the middle of the 14th century, the natural landscape around the city has been gradually transformed by human intervention. The marshlands have given way to a dense network of over 500 lakes, grouped in 16 aquatic systems, today a paradise returned to wilderness and populated with rare species of plants and animals. The largest of these lakes is found right near the city and is tied to the name of the Rosenberg family, the owners of the medieval burg. Like all historical cities in Bohemia and Moravia, the square contains a plague column, a Renaissance fountain, the tower building of the city hall.