The Maximilian fountain was built in 1572 in the Austrian stone workshop of Andreas Lutringer, with a financial contribution from Hungary’s King Maximilian II. However, it is better known as Roland’s Fountain. It consists of a massive circular tank 9 metres in diameter. In the middle of the tank stands a 10.5-metre-high column topped by a statue of a knight in armour said to represent the knight Roland, a legendary defender of the city’s rights. Others consider this to be a statue of Maximilian II.
To this day, a legend still attaches to the fountain. The knight normally stands with his face turned towards the town hall. However, once a year, precisely at the stroke of midnight at New Year, he turns and bows in the direction of the former town hall, honouring the twelve councillors who in the past gave their lives in order to save the city. He is also rumoured to come to life on Good Friday. On this occasion, he moves in broad daylight from his pedestal and waves his sword, Durandal, in all four directions, to show the town that it still enjoys his protection. However, it is said that when he does so he can be seen only by a born-and-bred citizen of Bratislava, one with a pure heart who has never harmed anyone.