European capital of culture, 2013
The second largest city in Slovakia, which is the heart of Eastern Carpathian region, is now a really fast-growing center. Košice will be the 2013 European Capital of Culture. The symbol of the city is a sculpture of a marathon runner – the International Peace Marathon annually takes place in Košice.
The city lies on the River Hornád, in junction of Košice Valley and Spiskie Ore, and is very attractive touristically. It has a beautifully restored old town with 460 historic buildings - Košice Old City, which is the largest urban historic area in Slovakia. Much of it is located around the most beautiful promenade in the country, street Hlavná. It’s worth to say few words about it.
Strolling down Hlavná
Both locals and tourists like to walk around Hlavná. The street is surrounded by a number of cafes and shops, thickly interlaced with monuments. One of the most important is the gothic cathedral of St. Elizabeth (Dom sv. Alzbety), the largest church in Slovakia and at the same time - extremely unlucky building. Its predecessor was burned, and the construction of the cathedral took over a hundred years, and later (it was completed in the early sixteenth century) survived earthquakes, fires and hurricanes. As a result, in the nineteenth century, only a general overhaul could help.
The Cathedral has five aisles and a ravishing interior. Here you can see the Gothic main altar of St. Elizabeth, a portal with reliefs and late Gothic side altars. Beautiful statues of the saint Hungarian kings (Stephen, Ladislaus and Emeric) on the pillars of the nave lure the eyes, just as the priceless relic on the windowsill of the southern oratory: the fourteenth-century group of "Crucifixion". There is also a crypt of Prince Francis II Rákóczi, who was Hungarian national hero.
Speaking of prince – on the western side of the street Hlavná there’s a building with medieval walls and rococo-classical facade. It’s Rákóczi’s Palace, in which now its headquarters has the Slovak Technical Museum.
Košice Old Town
North of the St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral we find Hlavné námestie – a square with neo-renaissance edifice of the theater. Between the buildings there’s a park with many benches, and with famous singing fountain in the middle. It's hard for a more romantic and charming place, what is confirmed by the crowds of strollers, especially in the summer.
A baroque Jesuit church is located right at the corner of Hlavná and Univerzitná. Behind the modest facade with two towers there’s a hidden, bright interior of the eighteenth-century décor, and a nineteenth-century main altar with the scene of the Assumption of the Virgin. Not too far away we find another temple which is worth seeing - a Franciscan church with the fourteenth-century walls. It was rebuilt in the late eighteenth century
But its attractiveness Hlavná owes not only to the monuments of sacred art. On its northern side, somewhere in the middle, there’s a stream flowing, with lots of small footbridges thrown over it. In turn, in the southern part of the street we find a few entries to go underground, where visitors can admire a remarkable archaeological heritage park. Here you can see the preserved remains of medieval fortifications.
Touristic attractions outside the city
Košice Square Market is considered to be the most beautiful in Slovakia. The whole city is so picturesque that it deserves to spend more time on exploration. But the areas around Košice attract tourists as well.
The majority of beautiful places include regions to the west of the city. In the vicinity of Medzev you can see the ruins of the eighteenth-century Hamry and artificial lakes that only make Šugovska Valley more spectacular. The ruins of the castle in Turniansky Podhradie are also worth visiting.
Apart from the beauty of architecture and surrounding nature, the location is one big advantage of Košice. The proximity of the borders with Ukraine, Hungary and Poland causes that the city is one of the best communicational centers of the country.
Campsites in the area
In the region of Kosice there’re a lot of spots where you can stop and rest. It's not just about the hotels and guest houses, but also about campsites. After all, while traveling caravanning fans often choose the route with the biggest number of places where they can leave their camper.
There are two highly recommended campsites in the area, one of which is ATC Salas Barca ** (Rondweg (zuid), 04013 Košice). Price of the double occupancy including the cost of the parking place for the car and charge for the access to electricity is 23.50-27,50 € per day. The campsite is located approximately 0.2 kilometers from the highway exit, the land is grassy, and there’s a on-site bar, shop and a restaurant with a large choice of dishes (opened all year). For the children there’s a playground and a children's farm, there’s also a table tennis.
The second campsite is Penzion Sokol (SNP Hrdinova 64, 04425 Vysny Medzev). The approximate price of accommodation here oscillate between 20 and 22.50 € per day. Apart from the playground, there is also so-called ‘pétanque’ (a place for playing "jeu de boule", which is a game of boules). Marked hiking trails go through the campsite, and several cycling routes begin here. There’re also tennis courts.
A trip to Košice
No matter what what means of transportation you choose and where you stop, coming to Košice would always be a great idea. Plenty of monuments, interesting places both in the city and outside it, the location that allows us to continue the trip in one of the three neighboring countries makes it so worthy to come to Košice.