Košice, with 234000 citizens, is after the capital the second largest town in Slovakia. It is situated in the eastern part of the country, close to the border with Hungary (20 km) on the south, Ukraine in the east (80 km) and Poland in the north (90 km). The town is located in the valley of the River Hornád; on the west it is surrounded by the Slovak mountain – Slovenské rudohorie. Košice is the Eastern Slovakia’s centre of culture, industry, commerce, administration and science.
Slovakia’s second largest city is a historic treasure trove, as well as a lively melting pot of nationalities. The Old Town’s (stare mesto) pedestrian – only cobble – stone main square is lined with baroque and neo-classical mansions. In fact, Kosice has the largest preserved urban area in the country. It also has Slovakia’s most beautiful cathedral in the middle of the oval-shaped main square.
Kosice has the most diverse mix of people of any Slovak city: you’ll find Hungarians and Romanies (gypsies) – and the only Roma theater in the country. Kosice is also an excellent base from which to explore the caves of the Slovak Karst area and the Herl’any geyser.
Occupying a strategic position on medieval trade routes between Europe and Constantinople, Kosice rose to wealth and power between the 13th and 15th centuries. Germans and Hungarians have dominated most of the history of this city. Located close to the Hungarian border and with a large population of ethnic Hungarians, Kosice was seized – along with most of southern Slovakia – by Hungary during World War II, but returned to Czechoslovakia afterwards. Under the Soviets, Kosice became a steel town. US Steel bought the Kosice plant in 2000 and today is one of Slovakia’s largest employers (16,000 employees).
Košice City Districts
- Košice I – Džungľa (Jungle), Kavečany, Sever (North), Sídlisko Ťahanovce, Staré Mesto (Old Town), Ťahanovce
- Košice II – Lorinčík, Luník IX, Myslava, Pereš, Poľov, Sídlisko KVP, Šaca, Západ (West)
- Košice III – Dargovských hrdinov, Košická Nová Ves
- Košice IV – Barca, Juh (South), Krásna (Beautiful), Nad jazerom (Over the Lake), Šebastovce, Vyšné Opátske
The beginnings of the settlement of today’s territory of Košice can be traced back to the late Stone Age. The first written mention about the southern suburbs Villa Cassa comes from the year 1230. Košice became a city in the year 1241, when King Belo IV supported the resettlement of the Kingdom of Hungary after the Mongolian invasion.
Medieval sealing, concentrated around the characteristically elongated lenticular square was during the years 1270-1290 surrounded by the city walls. Due to the commercial and strategic advantageous location Košice has denoted a rapid increase. Granting privileges contributed the increase of the craft and trade and thus the importance and the development of the city has enlarged.
The oldest guild regulations of the country were preserved from the year 1307 and in 1369 Košice obtained as the first city in Europe its own coat of arms. Košice became the second important city in the Kingdom of Hungary, with the same rights as the capital Beda had. It was a cultural, craft and commercial center of the Upper Hungary and across the important trade routes, especially from the Baltic to the Balkans.
Since the beginning of the 15th century, Košice was at the forefront of Pentapolitana – alliance of five eastern Slovak towns. During the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg in the first half of the 15th century a spectacular Gothic development was built , the most important example is the Cathedral of St. Elizabeth. During the humanistic reign of Matthias Corvinus Košice with 10,000 inhabitants belonged to the largest cities in Europe.
Due to its economic, administrative and political importance a university was established in Košice in 1657, which lasted until the year 1921. The university was During its activities, the university was changed into a royal university and later changed into a Law Academy.
In 1945 the first post-war Czech-Slovak government was formed in Košice and the Košice government program was declared. In 1960 Košice became the regional capital of Eastern Slovakia. A metallurgical combine, which was built in the 60s on the southeastern outskirt, caused a mass immigration. Košice deserved the title of the fastest growing city in Czechoslovakia. Since 1993 city Košice is the seat of the Constitutional Courts of the Slovak Republic.
In the southwest of the city the international airport Košice – Barca is located, with regular flights to Bratislava, Prague, Vienna, Milan and with charter flights to many holiday destinations. The airport also provides bus connection to Poprad – Tatry and to the Budapest airport Ferihegy.
Košice is connected with Prešov by a highway D1. Bus transport is securing the urban, state and international routes from the bus station adjoining to the railway station.In addition to the traditional West-Europe routes the connection with the cities of Ukraine – Uzhgorod and Mukachevo is well-secured.
The Railway Station Košice on the eastern edge of the center is the main railway station of the city, in which territory are railway stations Barca, Krásna nad Hornádom and stops Košice suburbs and Ťahanovce. In Čermeľ Valley in the northeast of the city a narrow-gauge Košická Youth Railway is operating in the summer. A wide-gauge rail track on which the iron ore is transported from Ukraine to U.S.Steel Kosice ends in Košice.
Košice has the oldest public transport in Slovakia, dates back to November 1891. In the 50s of the last century a new peace of transport appeared – the bus. In the 60s a large-scale tram roller coaster has been built to transport the employees of the VSZ. The construction of the trolley traction took place from 1993-1999. Urban traffic transport is ensured by Transport Company Košice, which operates 69 routes of busses, trolley buses and trams. In the night-time period three bus lines (N1, N2 and N3) and one trolley bus line (N71) are operating. Using public transport is charged.
St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral
St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral (Dóm sv. Alžbety) is with the area of 1,200 m2 and with the capacity of over 5,000 people the biggest church in Slovakia and is also the easternmost Gothic cathedral in Europe. The cathedral is located in the middle of the Hlavná ulica (Main Street) in Košice and forms it to the shape of lens. It is the main temple of the Roman-Catholic archdiocese and is the parish church of Parish of St. Elizabeth in Košice.
The outside length of the cathedral is 60 m, the width is 36 m, heigth of the north tower is 59 m. The building had a significant influence on the architectural works in the surrounding cities such as Prešov, Bardejov, Sabinov, Rožňava and also influenced the construction of other temples in Poland and Transylvania (Sibia, Brasov and Cluj).
The Gothic cathedral in Košice has a sanctuary with five-part seal, two towers, bunk sacristy on the north side and two chapels and a hall on the south side. Unique is the internal layout of the temple, where the main boat and four side boats are crossed with another boat, with the same height and width as the main boat, in the half of their length, what creates a Greek cross. Cathedral complex and adjoining buildings of the St. Michael Chapel and Urban’s Tower were declared a national cultural monument in 1970.
The oldest church of Košice was built around the mid of the 11th century and was sacred to St. Michael. The church was built in the place of the current cathedral in Romanesque style. Even as a parish church was mentioned in the oldest written records of the city from the year 1230.
After the settlement of German guests in Košice in the 40s of the 13th century, when St. Elizabeth became the patron of the city, the church was re-sacred to St. Elizabeth. On this occasion the church has undergone a modification in Gothic style during the second half of the 13th century. The church has retained the Romanesque tower, but obtained a new Gothic arch and seal of the sanctuary. The list of Pope Martin IV from the year 1283 mentions it as a church sacred to St. Elizabeth. This parish church burned down in 1380, but was treated and maintained in use until the construction of the present Cathedral. Some Roman artefacts such as a lion statue bronze font and a few tombstones were preserved.
Bases of this Romanesque-Gothic church were found during the big reconstruction of the Cathedral in 1882-1884. In 1985-1992 the most injured side of the sanctuary and sacristy was reconstructed, new crown cornices, gargoyles and pinnacles were created according to the available materials of Archives of Kosice. The only restored inner part is the interior of the sanctuary.
During the years 1992-1995 the south façade, including the window-pane of the sanctuary was reconstructed. A rigorous innovation underwent the Sigismund tower in 1995-1997, when the copper Rococo scrum was changed for a new one. Purged gold plate structure worked ornaments are originals from 1775. In 2008 the reconstruction of the Rakoczi crypt was completed and in 2009 the most valuable northern portal was completed.
St. Michael’s Chapel
St. Michael’s Chapel (Kaplnka sv. Michala) was most likely built in the first half of the 14th century and was a part of the parish church. It was built as a cemetery chapel in the middle of the cemetery in the center of the city, which stretched from the dome on the south to the current park on the Main Street. The chapel was sacred to St. Michael, the valet of the souls to the other world.
The lower part of the chapel served as an ossarium – charnel house of bone remains, excavated in digging through the cemetery for new graves. The upper part was used for requiems. To its north side a side boat was built in 1508, which was demolished during the reconstruction in 1902-1904. On this occasion, 17 old tomb stones of the former cemetery from the 14th-17th century were walled up in order to preserve them against the destruction.
The external decoration is in Gothic style. On the altar in the chapel is an image of the patron of dead St. Michael the Archangel as he is fighting Satan the Dragon. On its sides are archangels Raphael and Gabriel. Stone tabernaculum, sculpture “Ecce Homo” and remains of the medieval wall paintings can be found in the interior of the chapel. Oldest coat of arms of Košice is located above the door to sacristy. The chapel was used as a Slovak church in the 17th century, while the cathedral was a German and Hungarian church.
Since 1771 it was forbidden to use the cemetery so the cemetery’s surroundings changed to a park. The first fundamental reconstruction in the spirit of Gothic purism was held in 1903-1904, during which the Szatmári boat was dismantled. The second fundamental reconstruction took place in 1998-2006 during which the affections of the first one were dismantled and it was awarded the Felix for the best building reconstruction in 2006. In 2007, the building was reclassified from chapel to church.
Over the original Košice Castle (Košický hrad), which lay on the top of Hradová northwest of Košice, remained only ruins. Residues of groundings and outer walls indicate that there once stood a castle, below which a battle took place in 1311 known as Battle of Rozhranovce.
The castle was probably built by Palatine Omodej. After the death of the last Arpád Omodej III in 1301, disputes have started between the Omodejs. Therefore Omodej started to build a castle in a foreign country. In 1307, Košice was kept under the reign of Charles, that’s why the castle has not been finished. Omodejovci after the lost battle presented the castle to their faithful supporters from Italy, Drugeth.
Later the owner of the castle became the Bebek family. The family had continual disputes with citizens of Košice, who claimed that the castle was built on their territory. Finally, Monarch held a rule and the castle accrued to Košice in 1430. Citizens of Košice obtained not only the castle but also a huge estate so after the recovery they no longer worried about the castle and so the castle was slowly disappearing since the mid of the 15th century.
Nowadays, only foundations of the castle are preserved. The walls consist of a round tower and a triangular bastion, which is smoothly connected to the walls. Walls are jogging on 100 m and then suddenly end. The continuation of the walls is not indicated neither terrain nor other remains, of which can be assumed that the castle was not finished. This means that Hradová was rather a fortification than a castle, which with its 3.8 m thick walls served its purpose.
The castle is accessible via forest road from the road to Kavečany, from the bus stop Výhliadková veža (Observation Tower).
St. Urban’s Tower
St. Urban’s Tower (Urbanova veža) in Košice is a bell tower of St. Elizabeth Cathedral sacred to St. Urban – the patron of the vine dressers. It was declared a national cultural monument in 1970 together with the St. Elizabeth Cathedral and St. Michael’s Chapel.
The tower was built at the turn of the 14th and 15th century as a bell tower of the cathedral in Gothic style. –› In 1628 it acquired a Renaissance form thanks to the Prešov architect Martin Lindtner. As a remembrance to this reconstruction a marble plaque is posted up above the entrance of the bell tower.
The tower and the cathedral burned down in a huge fire in 1556, during which the bells melted. Due to a bell-founder of Olomouc Franz Illenfeld, a new huge bell Urban weighting 5 tons was alloyed of these and placed in the tower.
Another modification of the tower took place in 1775, when the pinnacle roof was completed with a Baroque onion with a metal cross. At the beginning of the 19th century the tower was finished with a Napoleonic roof and small shops were set up on the ground floor. These shops were removed in 1911-1912, when they were replaced by representative arcades, protecting the gravestones of the cathedral and the nearby medieval cemetery. The arcade was also developed in the war years in 1943-1944.
The tower together with the bell Urban and with the roof was destroyed in a fire in 1966. Its reconstruction took place in 1967-1971. Within the restitution the tower was reverted into a Church in the year 1994. A Wax Museum, binding primarily to the history of the city, resides in the tower since 2004. The original bell Urban, damaged in a fire in 1966 was tagged together from fragments and is exposed below the tower since 1989. A functional copy of the bell was alloyed by masters of the East-Slovak Metalworks and was donated to city of Kosice in 1966, since then it is placed in the Urban’s tower.
The construction of the city fortifications began in 1260-1290 and formed the spindle-type town, which was enclosed by two main gates. Upper Gate enclosed the entrance to the town in the north and the Lower Gate in the south. In the west the Hnilná gate was built and in the east the Painted and the Mill Gate.
The first wall was around 1.2-1.5 m thick and 6-8 m high and was built of quarry stone. The inner circle of the walls, consisting of the main defensive wall, was fortified by nine bastions in the 15th century. They were named after the guild, which was responsible for their defense: bastion tan, coopers, butchers, locksmith, cartwrights, pottery, ropemaker, shoemaker and blacksmith.
Ahead of the main wall water ditches were built, in which the water was supplied from Čermeľ and Mlynský jarok. During the reign of Sigismund and Matthias Corvinus a 2,355 m long outer wall was built ahead of the main ditch, which was fortified by semi-circular artillery bastion.
The city fortification was damaged in a fire in 1556, but the city was under Turkish threat, the fortification system was quickly put in repair and completed. The outer circle was reinforced by eight polygonal bastions, in which cannons were placed.
In 1671-1677 a five-wing citadel was built ahead of the Lower Gate under the direction of imperial engineer de Sich. In 1713 Charles III commanded to demolish the citadel and the last grounds were removed in the extension of the Main Street to the south. As the development of the city kept up, walls, gates, bastions and ditches were gradually dissolving. Archive records of the city fortification are stored in a museum exposure in Miklušova prison.
- Bill Restaurant – Hlavná 117
- Cinematic – Hlavná 2
- Rokoko restaurant – Gorkého 9
- Vinotéka u 12 apoštolov – Kováčska 51
- Restaurant Koliba – Za priekopou 1
- Divadlo na Perone (Theatre on Peron) – Nižná úvrať 25, Vyšné Opátske
- Malá scéna (Small Scene) – Hlavná 76
- Staromestské divadlo (The Old Town Theatre) – Hlavná 76
- Romathan – Štefánikova 4
- Divadlo Thália (Thalia Theatre) – Timonova 3
- Bábkové divadlo (Puppets Theatre) – Alžbetina 38
- Scéna Jorik(Jorik Scene) – Tajovského 4
State Theatre Košice
State Theatre Košice (Štátne divadlo Košice) is a classic theater with three ensembles – drama, opera and ballet. The opera ensemble has in its repertoire opera and operetta. Theatre is located on the Main Street 58 in Košice. The Main Stage is placed in the historic building from the year 1899 and the Small Stage is located in the nearby Art Nouveau building.
Košice Theatre arose in the place of the former medieval Town Hall, which was not used since the 16th century and in 1756 a café was set up there, what was something new and so the café has became a social center. The first building of the Košice Theater was put into operation in 1788, although the entire building was completed two years later.
The first production was the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Initially, the theatre played in German, then, since 1916, was played in German or Hungarian. In addition to the theatre, a café reopened in the building and a ridotto in it. Theatre hall had a capacity of 500 spectators.
The building was built in Classicist style designed by Stephen Brocký and Joseph John Taller. In 1828 a casino was opened in the building. The building was closed for safety reasons in 1894. The current building of the theater, built according to the project of architect Adolf Lang, was inaugurated on 28 September 1899. The new building was built in the place of the former theater from the year 1788 in Neo-Baroque style. Originally, productions were played in Hungarian language.
In 1924 the East-Slovak National Theatre was established, which perished in 1929 because of economic difficulties. Theater was re-opened in 1937 as a separate branch of the National Theatre in Bratislava but re-perished in 1938, when Košice was given to Hungary.
Since the season 1946-1947, the theater has had the name of the National Theatre in Košice and in 1955 was renamed to the State Theatre Košice. In the 90s of the 20th century the theatre has undergone an extensive reconstruction, which sensitively preserved its original character.
State Philharmonic Košice
State Philharmonic Košice (Štátna filharmónia Košice) is the second professional symphonic orchestra in Slovakia, which was founded in 1968 in Košice. The first concert of the newly formed philharmonic was held in April 1969 under the leadership of the then chief conductor Bystrík Rezucha. In a short time the philharmonic achieved an acknowledgement of adepts and public and became one of the leading representatives of Slovak performing art at home and abroad.
Nearly 90 members of the orchestra are professional musicians – graduates of conservatories and famous music schools. The philharmonic reached significant achievements in many European countries, but also in considerable cities in Asia. It played at international music festivals and at important cultural centers such as Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Antwerp, Lisbon, Barcelona, Hong-Kong, New York and others. In 1994 they had as the first Slovak symphony orchestra a month-long tour around the USA.
The Slovak Philharmonic Košice presents its art not only by active concerts, but also by radio and television records and cooperates with gramophone companies. Recordings for editions Naxos, Marco Polo and others are unique – the first recordings of sporadically audible works of art of L. Spohr, J. Raff, A. Rubinstein and others.
The orchestra has worked together with many famous musicians such as Igor Oistrach, Gidon Kremer, Peter Dvorský, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Viktor Fedotov and others. In May 1998 the philharmonic appeared on a big concert with Luciano Pavarotti. Repertoire of the orchestra includes all the important and famous works from Baroque to the music of the 20th century.
Since 1991, the National Philharmonic Košice is, as the only orchestra in Slovakia, the main organizer of two international festivals – Košická hudobná jar (Košice Music Spring Festival) and Medzinárodný organový festival (International Organ festival) and also Festival súčasného umenia (Festival of Contemporary Art) since 2003.
- Východoslovenské múzeum (Eastern Slovak Museum) – Hviezdoslavova 3
- Slovenské technické múzeum (Slovak Technical Museum) – Hlavná 88
- Múzeum Vojtecha Lofflera (Museum of Vojtech Loffler) – Alžbetina ul. 20
Eastern Slovak Museum
Eastern-Slovak Museum in Košice is one of the oldest and most important museums in Slovakia.
Founder of the institution, which took care of preservation the monuments of Košice, was Imrich Henszlmann. Imrich Henszlmann, a native of Košice, had originally a physician education and later was the founder of art history in Hungary. He managed to establish the Upper-Hungary Museum Association in 1872. Henszlmann died in 1888 and left for the museum his collections – more than 3,000 pieces of fine art, library, correspondence and manuscripts, as well as his next estate. This collection became the fundamental museum collection.
During the 130-year history the East-Slovak Museum has undergone several more and less favourable changes. Museum has changed several locations and founders. The most significant personalities that formed the history of the museum were: Vojtech Klimkovič (the first director of the Upper-Hungary Museum), Joseph Mihálik (the first professional historian), Dr. Joseph Polák (an important cultural personality of the interwar period) and many others.
The East-Slovak Museum in Košice has three specialist areas – scientific department, history department and art history department. The museum is publishing a scientific year-book Natura Carpatica since 1960 and a social-scientific year-book Historica Carpatica since 1969.
The museum currently manages more than 450,000 objects of which it presents nine permanent thematic expositions. Since 2002, the museum is an accredited research institution and in the same year the museum was awarded the Price of city Košice.
Slovak Technical Museum
Slovak Technical Museum (Slovenské technické múzeum) in Košice is the only of its kind which systematically collects, evaluates, scientifically and educationally uses documents of development of the engineering and of exact science from all over Slovakia.
The museum manages rich collections of technical and scientific disciplines in their historical development. Slovak Technical Museum documents the Slovak share of the development of world science and technology. Profile of the museum was formed since 1948, when it was opened to the public.
Slovakia was one of the most industrial areas in Hungary and the industry here was quickly developing. Due to the rich mineral deposit, its mining and processing in mining and metallurgy, Slovakia was queued in the development of technology among the leading European countries.
During its existence, the museum has collected more than 16,000 objects, of which many have irreplaceable value. The rich collection of the museum includes mining, metallurgy, smith-craft, horology, engineering, electrical engineering, geodesy and cartography, photographic and cinematographic equipment. The scientific disciplines are represented by collections of historical instrumentation in physics, chemistry and astronomy.
Slovak Technical Museum also manages the immovable technical monuments, such as Solivar pri Prešove (Saline in Prešov), the blast furnace Karol (Charles) nearby Vlachov or the forge hearth in Moldava nad Bodvou. In 1992 was founded a separate detached department of Slovak Technical Museum in Bratislava, which focused on museum documentation and presentation of rail and road transport in Slovakia and little by little formed the Museum of Transport.
Museum exhibits its collection in the following domains: mining, blacksmith, electrical engineering, physics, horology, engineering, chemistry, photographic and cinematographic equipment and industrial design.
Building of the Slovak Technical Museum is an architectural dominant of Košice and was found on the place of four Gothic burgher houses from the 13th century, which were renovated in Theresian Baroque classicism style in the 18th century. These buildings were the seats of the highest Hungarian military officers during their visit in Košice, thenceforward the entire complex was called The House of the Upper-Hungary Captain or the Rákoczi Palace.
- Východoslovenská galéria (Eastern Slovak Gallery) – Hlavná 27
- Nova Photo Gallery – Hlavná 48
- Panopticum Gallery – Dominikánske nám. 8
- Unicon-Art-Gallery – Masarykova 2
- Rotunda – Zbrojničná 6
- Impulz (Impuls Cinema) – Kasárenské námestie 1
- Úsmev (Smile Cinema) – Kasárenské námestie 1
- Film Club Cinefil – Dominkánske námestie 8
- Exit Club – Mäsiarska 8
- Rodeo Club – Cordakova 2
- Marseille Club – Alžbetina 27
- Jazz Club – Kováčska 39
- OC Atrium Optima – Moldavská cesta 32
- OC Cassovia – Pri prachárni 4
Tourist Information Centre:
- Address: Hlavná 2
- Tel: 00421/55/622 99 04