Žilina is the centre of northwest Slovakia and the fourth largest town of the country. It is situated at the confluence of three rivers - Váh, Kysuca and Rajčianka. The town is a seat of administration of the Žilina self-gouverning region and a gate to the Upper Váh (Horné Považie) Region.

In 1208, the district of today's Žilina was first mentioned in a bill of the head of Nitra County, Thomas, under the name 'Terra de Selinan' (Land Žiliňany). The oldest architectural relic in the territory of the town and the oldest building of its type in nort-western Slovakia, the Church of St. Stephen the King, is located in the district Dolné Rudiny. Its beginnings go back to the 13th century. 2008 was a year of celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the first written mention of the district of today's Žilina.

Žilina has seen a rapid growth in recent years, after the South Korean car maker KIA Motors Slovakia opened a major car plant. The town is not only a centre of the automotive industry, but together with Upper Váh Region is an attractive tourist destination. Interesting cultural events organised in Žilina contribute to developement of travel industry. The town is also a seat of the University of Žilina and since 2008 a seat of the diocese of Žilina. The town has recently become popular as a centre of seminars and conferences.

St. Mary's Square, an Urban Protected Area since 1987, represents a historical heart of Žilina. Because of its square shape of about 100x100 m (109x109 yd) and arcades, it creates an inimitable atmosphere, unique in Slovakia. There exist many legends about St. Mary's Square. One of them tells of secret underground spaces connecting the buildings on the square. An unofficial logo of the town is the view from the Andrej Hlinka Square at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Cathedral) with balustrades.

The centre of the town is one of the longest and most beautiful pedestrian zones in Slovakia with a number of restaurants and stylish cafés.

Cultural, sporting and social events take place in Žilina throughout the whole year, e.g. Carnival Slovakia Žilina, Spring Prize of Žilina, Down Town Celebrations, Žilina Midsummer night, Jašidielňa, Žilina Day of Health, Žilina Literary Festival and Medieval Day and more.