Every other year, in the second week of September, Marostica hosts a game of chess. But in this game, living people play the roles of the wooden figurines, and the square of this tiny medieval town serves as the chess board, with its pavement designed especially for this purpose. For this reason, the Maroustica Piazza Castello is also called the Piazza degli Scacchi. As the story goes, in medieval times, two young nobles, Rinaldo D’Angarano and Vieri da Vallanora, fell madly in love with Lionora, the daughter of a local Lord. The customs of the time required that the girl’s fate be decided through a duel. But as her father did not wish to make enemies, and wanted no blood spilt, he forbid the duel and proposed a chess game in its stead. The winner would become the husband of the coveted Lionora. The loser would not lose, but instead gain the hand of his younger daughter, Oldrada. Of course, this story has no basis in historical fact. Not one of its characters ever existed, just as there was no chess match in medieval Marostica, which in the local Venetian dialect was called Maròstega. A Dalmatian writer and architect named Mario Mirko Vucetich invented the entire story, just after the Second World War. And the local chess club found it apt to regard the story as true and to organise, every other year, a competition with living people as chess pieces, in this scenic square with medieval origins in the small town of Marostica, in northern Italy.
This urban structure was determined by its geographical position, one of the most spectacular in urban Europe. Passau is situated on a spit of land, at the confluence between the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz, each with differently coloured waters. The Domplatz lies at the highest point of the city, which serves to its advantage, as Passau is threatened by floods each year. The square was built in 1150, and in 1155, after donations by the Bishop Konrad von Babenberg, it became the property of the Cathedral, under the condition that clerical houses be built on its free sides. These 14 buildings were damaged by the great fires of 1662 and 1680, and then rebuilt by Italian architects in a late-Baroque style. In 1824, a statue of Emperor Maximilian I of Bavaria was placed in the square. Thus, for the first time in its history, the square became public, gaining the status of an official town square. It was renovated after 2013. Its pavement was replaced with fine gravel, pointing to its previous historical eras. Its lighting is spectacular, one of the finest in Europe. Highlighting the façade of the Cathedral, leaving the square and the rest of the buildings in half-light, it enngages in a subtle game of darkness and light, linking the past, when cities did not have public lighting, with the future. The effect is that of a scene from a Baroque play.
Třeboň, or Wittingau in German, has one of the best-preserved medieval squares in Bohemia. In fact, only its shape dates from medieval times, since its current form, with its Renaissance and Baroque houses, resulted from the flourishing fish trade of the 14th century. Beginning in the mid-14th century, the natural landscapes around the city were gradually transformed by human intervention. The marshlands gave way to a dense network of over 500 lakes, grouped into 16 aquatic systems, today a paradise returned to the wilderness and populated with rare species of plants and animals. The largest of these lakes is located right near the city and is tied to the Rosenberg family, owners of the medieval burg. Like all historical cities in Bohemia and Moravia, this square contains a plague column; a Renaissance fountain; and a tower building belonging to the City Hall.