Travel Guide Europe Slovakia Kosice

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Introduction

Košice is the biggest city in eastern Slovakia and in 2013 was the European Capital of Culture together with Marseille, France. It is situated on the river Hornád at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains, near the border with Hungary. With a population of approximately 240,000, Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia after the capital Bratislava.

The city has a well-preserved historical centre, which is the largest among Slovak towns. There are many heritage protected buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau styles with Slovakia's largest church: the St. Elisabeth Cathedral. The long main street, rimmed with aristocratic palaces, Catholic churches, and townsfolk's houses, is a thriving pedestrian zone with many boutiques, cafés, and restaurants.

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Sights and Activities

Most of Košice's attractions are along the main pedestrianized street, known as Hlavná ulica (Main Street), Námestie Maratónu Mieru (Peace Marathon Square, the north end of Hlavna), and Námestie Osloboditeľov (Square of the liberators, at the southern end of Hlavna) at various parts.

  • Main Street (Hlavná ulica) where most of the sights worth seeing are. With its unique atmosphere it creates the heart of the town. In the past, it used to be a medieval square and the whole town started to grow from this point. Now this place is flat, however in the past it used to be hilly and even a stream flew there. The "Čermeľský potok" (The Tshermel stream) used to create an island on the main street, where the Saint Elizabeth cathedral is located now. Due to developing infrastructure, this stream has been landed up in 1899 and was renewed only symbolically during the renovation of the main street in the 1990s. Today, all the traffic from the main street is excluded, therefore it is a very pleasant pedestrian site. Except the Saint Elizabeth Cathedral, you will find also the Saint Michael Chapel, Urban tower, The State Theater, the so-called singing fountain (a unique fountain in Europe), as well as many stylish original bourgeois houses.
  • St Elizabeth's Cathedral (Dóm sv.Alžbety). This remarkable medieval monument was built in the High Gothic style. The present cathedral stands on a site formerly occupied by a parish church, which was destroyed by fire around year 1370. The patrons of the church included St. Elizabeth. The construction of St. Elizabeth's Cathedral began approximately in 1378. The entrance to the cathedral is for free anytime during the day. There is also a possibility to visit the northern tower of the cathedral, which gives you a stunning view of the surrounding historical centre. The height of this tower is 59.7 metres and contains 160 stairs in the staircase. It is open all year long between 10:00am and 5:00pm. You can buy the tickets at the entrance to the cathedral. The entrance fee is rather cheap.
  • St. Michael's Chapel (Kaplnka sv.Michala). The chapel probably comes from the first half of the14th century and had always been a part of the parish church. It was built as a cemetery chapel in the centre of a cemetery inside the city walls stretching from the Cathedral to the South on the island of the Čermeľský potok (Čermeľ brook) in the place of the present park in the Hlavná ulica (Main street). The outer decoration is Gothic, the turret is fitted in the roof structure. The patron of the dead, the Archangel Michael, vanquishing the Satan as dragon is shown on the altar. There are Archangels Rafael and Gabriel on his sides. In the interior, there is a nice stone tabernacle, the ornamental sculpture "Ecce Homo" and remains of wall paintings from Middle Ages. The oldest coat-of-arms of Košice is situated above the door leading to the vestry.
  • Saint Urban's tower (Urbanova veža). Originally a Gothic prismatic campanile with a pyramidal roof dating back to the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. The bell, which was installed in the tower (its weight equals to 7 tones), was dedicated to St. Urban, the patron of wine-prowers, which was cast in a mould by the bell founder Frantisek Illenfeld of Olomouc in 1557. 36 tombstones dating from the 14th century (one of these tombstones is Roman dating from the 4th century) to the 17th century were put into the outer walls of the Tower. In 1966 the Tower was damaged by fire, which destroyed the roofing and the bells. In the years 1967-1971 the Tower was subjected to restoration and renovation.
  • The State Theatre (Štátne divadlo). The theatre was built in a new-baroque style during the years 1879-1899, according to the projects of A. Lang and A. Steinhardt, where a former theatre building, built in 1788 - 1790, was situated. Originally before that a town-hall building was standing here. The interior of theatre is richly decorated with plaster ornaments, the stage is lyre-shaped. The ceiling of the theatre's building is decorated with paintings by the Viennese painter P. Gatseb with scenes from Shakespeare's tragedies Othello, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Midsummer Night's dream. On the main forcade of the building a memorial plaque can be found, dedicated to the first director of the theatre after WW2 - the national artist Janko Borodac.
  • Immaculata (Plague Column). The Immaculata Statue is the most beautiful Baroque-style sculptured monument in the City. It commemorates the plague from the years 1710 -1711 and is dated from 1720 - 1723. It is a 14-metre-high column on the stone base with sculptures of Josef, Sebastian and Ladislav. On the top there is the sculpture of Virgin Mary. On the pillars of the fence there are sculptures of St. Gabriel, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Margita, St. Michael the archangel and St. Barbora.
  • Palaces of Košice. Košice is the city which has the highest number of palaces in Slovakia and all of them are worth seeing. Perhaps the most important palace is the Former Town Hall , which is the oldest of Košice's council offices. The Andrassy's Palace today serves as the biggest cafeteria and patisserie - AIDA. The other palaces include The Bishop's Palace , Hadik - Barkoczy Palace , Pongrácz - Forgács' Palace - the seat of the Regional State Library and Csáky - Dessewffy Palace - at present the building is the seat of the Constitutional Court of Slovak Republic and at the same time it is the so-called 'palace of the books' as you can find the biggest bookstore of Košice, selling books not only in Slovak, but also in Hungarian, English, German and other languages. We shall not to forget about the Captain's Palace where you can find the Slovak Technical museum and last but not least, Jacab's Palace which was erected in 1899 in the pseudo-Gothic style constructed from discarded stones from the Kosice St. Elizabeth's Cathedral and most of the inhabitants of Košice would choose this building as one of the most beautiful ones.
  • Beggar's House - For an interesting story you may look up the Beggar's House which is one of the historical houses on Hlavna (on the right between the Theater and Immaculata when walking up north). On forefront, at top of the house you will see a statue of a guy with a hat thanking/begging for alms. The story says the career beggar who had no other income had over years used generosity of rich Košice dwellers to build the house at what was then a very 'high-end' medieval (a.k.a. Hlavna Street) part of Košice. This kind of largess may seem to be perceived a bit strange by today's beggars rarely appreciating Košice inhabitants, but it still makes up for a good narrative. And a historic house.
  • East Slovak Museum (Vychodoslovenske muzeum) was established in 1872 and it is one of the oldest and most significant museums in Slovakia. From the architectonic point of view, the buildings of the museum itself are very interesting historical sights. In this museum, the following permanent expositions can be found: the nature of Carpathia, Hundreds of years of art, "Rodosto" - the memorial house of Franz II. Rakoczy, Artistic metal founding in Eastern Slovakia and Centuries of Košice - Mikluš's Prison. Except these expositions, there are always some temporary events and expositions.
  • Muzeum Vojtecha Lofflera, 20 Alzbetina ulica. Likely interesting for the more art inclined traveler after seeing the usual government sponsored touristy stuff.

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Events and Festivals

Košice Music Spring Festival

The biggest music festival in the Slovak Republic’s second biggest city also happens to be among the country’s oldest music festival. Both the Czech and Slovak philharmonic orchestras make beautiful music during this week-long May classical music festival which was first held in 1956. The festival also attracts chamber orchestras, opera performers, and other talented classical musicians.

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Weather

Košice lies in the north temperate zone and has a borderline continental and marine climate with four distinct seasons. If defined as marine due to the winters just above -3 °C, it would be one of the farthest inland areas with this climate type. It is characterized by a significant variation between hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

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Getting There

By Plane

The Košice international airport is located south of the city. Regular direct flights from the airport are available to London, Bratislava, Vienna, and Prague.

By Train

Košice railway station is a rail hub of eastern Slovakia. The city is connected by rail to Prague, Budapest, Kiev, Bratislava, Prešov, Čierna nad Tisou, Humenné, Miskolc (Hungary), and Zvolen.

By Car

The D1 motorway connects the city to Prešov and more motorways and roads are planned around the city.

By Bus

Given the efficiency and value of the train system, you shouldn't need to use the bus system very much. Eurolines coaches come to here from numerous European cities, and bus is the most efficient way of reaching the nearby town of Levoca. There are also several companies linking Košice with Prague, usually with several stops on the route, including Brno. Direct buses from Budapest or Vienna to Kosice by Eurobusways.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Public Transport in Košice is managed by Dopravný podnik mesta Košice. The municipal mass transit system is the oldest one in present-day Slovakia, with the first horse-car line beginning operation in 1891 (electrified in 1914). Today, the city's public transportation system is composed of buses (in use since the 1950s), trams, and trolleybuses (since 1993).

By Foot

Košice has a small and compact city center, and is mostly navigable by foot.

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Eat

  • AJVEGA, 10 Orlia (turn left when walking Mlynska west towards Hlavna from the train station). A vegetarian and celiac diet friendly meals and pizzas providing restaurant. Dietary meals (with some including meat) offered at the 'tower', upstairs. A quiet place with a terrace enjoyable on warmer days. A weekday inexpensive midday lunch menu offered.
  • Panda Asian bistro, Fejova 13, open from 09:00 to 19:00, closed on Sunday, good and cheap food, average price for lunch is €3.50. Ask for opekane rezance, Asian style noodles for €1,50.
  • Med Malina. Restaurant, Hlavná 81, open from 10:00am till 10:00pm every day, and till 11:00pm on Fridays. Offers good food, English speaking staff, wi-fi internet access and cosy traditional environment.
  • Golem. Dominikanske namestie 15, next to the church. Nice pub and restaurant with an indulging vibe usually on all week days. Try out their own microbrewery produced beers and home made pickled ermine cheese.
  • Pizzeria Zvon, Zvonárska 133/4, 040 01 Košice, Slovakia, ☎ +421 55 622 56 89. Lovely pizza restaurant, with great food, was about EUR 5.20 for a large pizza. All stone baked on hand thrown dough, brilliant toppings, lively atmosphere, and great staff.

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Drink

Košice is faithful to its east Slovakian tradition in providing great and cheap parties for both locals and travellers while competing with many of Europe's much bigger and more often visited cities in what travel books usually call 'liveliness'. Season may vary with summer months unexpectedly providing a bit of a lull in usual Friday/Saturday silliness but city's center compact and concentrated bar scene provides many hidden gems disregard of day of week or month of the year. If you walk evening Hlavna after seeing everything 'important', do not hesitate to ask around. Only beware of getting caught up in acts of suspicious types, visiting parks at nights etc., as this place, though being relatively safe, really may be called the frontier of civilized part of Europe at times. Common safety measures for women and lone travelers are advisable.

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Sleep

  • MEI hostel, ☎ +421 55-642 35 11. Is a budget hostel for tourists, not far away from the historical centre. A price for a double room starts from €30. Contact: Kysucká 16, e-mail: recepcia@meihostel.sk.
  • K2 Hostel, Štúrová 32. Popular accommodation among young budget travellers. 5 minutes walk from the Main Street. Accommodation is offered in 1 two bedded-, 8 three bedded-, and 7 four bedded rooms, altogether 54 beds. Rooms are furnished with basic furniture. Bathrooms are shared. The cheapest single room is available for €16.50.
  • Hotel Gloria Palace, Bottova 1. Accommodation at modern-day standards in single and twin-bed rooms and suites. All rooms have their own bathroom and WC, color television with 10 channels supplied by cable and telephone. Guests have internet access on the reception.

Villa Regia penzión, Dominikánske námestie 599/3, 040 01 Košice, Slovakia, ☎ +421 55 625 65 10. Modern renovation of an old building. All rooms to high standard with en-suite shower rooms. Breakfast included, in great restaurant. Very friendly staff, 250m from cathedral and centre. Wifi throughout.

  • Doubletree by Hilton Košice, Hlavna 1, ☎ +421 55-3251 100. Modern amenities and warm hospitality. The newly renovated downtown hotel.
  • Hotel Yasmin Košice, Tyršovo nábrežie 1, ☎ +421 55 795 11 00, e-mail: info@hotel-yasmin.sk. 4* designer hotel steps from the historical pedestrian zone.
  • Hotel Zlaty Dukat Košice, Hlavná 16, ☎ +421 55 7279333, fax: +421 55 7279344, e-mail: hotel@hotelzlatydukat.sk. Four star hotel offering luxurious premises. Glass museum in the hotel and gourmet specialties.
  • Boutique Hotel Bristol Košice, Orlia 3, ☎ +421 55 729 00 77, +421 55 729 00 78, fax: +421 55 729 00 79, e-mail: info@hotelbristol.sk. A 4-star hotel with a Roman spa.
  • Hotel Bankov Košice, Dolný Bankov 2, – 4, ☎ +421 55 63 245 22, fax: +421 55 63 245 40, e-mail: reception@hotelbankov.sk. Elegant 4* hotel with a charming atmosphere and style in quiet environment. The oldest existing hotel in Slovakia.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wifi and broadband can be found more or less everywhere, and there will be an internet cafe available somewhere even in smaller towns. Also, hostels, pubs, cafes, and some public institutions such as libraries or government buildings offer (free) wifi.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Slovakia is +421. In case of an emergency, call the universal number 112. You can also call directly on 150 for fire brigade, 155 in a medical emergency or 158 for the police.

Slovak phones operate on the GSM standard, which covers most of the country, and 3G covers most of the area. The coverage is surprisingly good, and you will often have signal even in mountain areas, unless you are in a deep ravine. There are three main operators - Orange, T-mobile and O2, and they all use 900 or 1800Mhz standard, which might not be compatible with some U.S. phones operating on 1900Mhz.

They all (along with some virtual operators, biggest of which are Funfón and Tesco Mobile) offer a variety of prepaid cards with various "pay as you go" schemes (some market research is advised, if you want the best deal) and incentives. If you have an unlocked phone, these are easy to pick up in any phone shop, or you can purchase a cheap phone with a prepaid card included.

There are still some phone boxes available, but with mobile phones now commonplace, they are declining in number. Also note that you might need to purchase a prepaid card to use some of them.

Post

Slovenská pošta is the national postal service of Slovakia. They have affordable, reliable and relatively fast services. You can choose to send letters/postcards first (express) or second class. Prices start at €0.40 for a second class letter (up to 50 gram) domestically, €0.60 for express services. Within Europe prices start at €0.90 (Czech Republic €0.80), outside Europe prices start at €1.00, all for second class letters/postcards up to 50 grams. Post offices are available in all villages and provide banking services like money transfers as well. The post offices are usually open from Monday to Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturday until 1:00pm. The main post offices in larger towns or shopping malls are open daily to 8:00pm. It is possible to buy post stamps for post cards and letters directly in the post offices or in some newspaper stands.
You can use parcels services with Slovenská Posta as well, although you might be better off with companies like UPS, TNT, FedEx or DHL, which offer similar prices, but usually faster and more reliable services.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 15:24 on Mar 19, 18 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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