Košice, the second-largest city in Slovakia

Introduction

The second-largest city in Slovakia, Košice, has been on my must-see list for quite a while, yet this blog-post is not going to be as comprehensive as the other articles about Slovakia on this website.

It will be an extension of sorts to my sabbatical page and to my previously published article about the Slovak Paradise.

Short overview

Though just about half the size of the capital Bratislava, Košice is the undisputed nucleus of Eastern Slovakia. The city is lying very close to the Hungarian border, that can be crossed some twenty kilometers southwards. The borders to Poland and the Ukraine are not far off too.

Košice was for centuries an important religious, strategic, and economic center in the Kingdom of Hungary, and in the 2nd World War sadly one pivot point in Central Europe for deporting Hungarian Jews to concentration camps in Poland.

Red Army monument, Hlavna street (main street)
Red Army monument, Hlavna street (main street)

The city belongs to Czechoslovakia since 1945 (and to Slovakia since 1993) after it had been a part already of the pre-war Czechoslovakia for about two decades.

Today, Košice with its 240.000 inhabitants is a site of major industries.

However, city tourism doesn’t seem to play a big role in comparison with other cities in Eastern Europe. Košice might even be an insiders’ tip for sightseeing tours or a unique cultural experience. That is at least my impression.

Sights in Košice

Similar to Spišská Nová Ves is a lens-shaped main square, enclosed by the Hlavná street (main street). Here most of the sights and the architectural and historical interesting buildings are located.

Coat of arms of Košice (Erb mesta Košice), February 27
Coat of arms of Košice (Erb mesta Košice), February 27

The Cathedral of St Elisabeth (Dóm svätej Alžbety) in Košice is the largest ecclesiastical edifice in whole Slovakia.

It dwarfs the tall Saint Michael Chapel (Kaplnka svätého Michala or Kostol svätého Michala) next to the cathedral, which served mainly as a mausoleum since its erection in the 14th century.

A little further southwards on the square you can also take a look at subterranean medieval walling (Dolná brána) for a small entrance fee.

Kostol svätého Michala after snowfall during the night
Kostol svätého Michala after snowfall during the night

The night between 26th and 27th of February slight snowfall occurred somewhat unexpectedly, so I had two quite diverse sets of photos after staying barely two days in the city.

Morový stĺp (Plague Column)
Morový stĺp (Plague Column)

On the northern part of the main square behind an encircling iron fence my camera took aim at the Plague Column (Morový stĺp), a reminiscence of a devastating plague epidemic in the 18th century.

Jakabov palác near Mestský park, Mlynská street
Jakabov palác near Mestský park, Mlynská street

Further sights are, for instance, the State Theatre and the “singing fountain”, also to be found on the main square.

Miscellaneous

I tried some nightlife and restaurants in Košice, and worth a visit is for example the Pivovar Hostinec in Hlavna street with many different sorts of local beer and dishes.

Pivovar Hostinec in the Old Town (Staré Mesto)
Pivovar Hostinec in the Old Town (Staré Mesto)

Nice is strolling from the Mestský park to the Hlavna street across the Lásky bridge (Most Lásky).

Košice at night, Most Lásky
Košice at night, Most Lásky

And if you want to visit the Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj), the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) or the other major cities in Slovakia, that is no big deal when you take the train.

Prešov, the third-largest city is half an hour away, the capital Bratislava around five (fast connection) or six hours, respectively. In either case, there is a direct connection, and to get to the capital you have to spend around twenty Euros.