The city occupies the Košice Basin formed by the wide valley of the River Hornád. The city centre lies at 208 metres above sea-level, and the climate in Košice is moderately warm with average temperatures of 19° C in July and -3° C in January.
The city covers area of 244 km2 and there live 235.000 inhabitants. As an independent legal entity it is divided into 22 city wards. It is the second largest city in Slovakia.
St. Elisabeth Cathedral
The symbolism of the city’s patron is evident as soon as you visit St. Elisabeth Cathedral. Construction work on the Cathedral started around 1380. It is the furthest east western-style gothic cathedral in Europe, as well as the biggest temple of worship in Slovakia. It houses the fascinating Altar of St. Elisabeth, a rare gothic double spiral staircase – one of just five of its kind in Europe, the crypt of the leader of the biggest anti-Habsburg uprising in the former Kingdom of Hungary, Francis II Rákóczi, and also a sundial from 1477. The frescos and sculpting are the work of master Štefan, a local artist from the 15th century, which adorn its interior and exterior. Thanks to the fantastic view of the centre, climbing the 60-metre high northern tower is well worth the effort. As you come out of the Cathedral and have a good look at its front facade, maybe you can decipher the riddle as to why this Cathedral is unique to the world.
Park with Musical Fountain
The musical fountain and carillon are unique, modern attractions of Kosice. They are located in the park between the State Theatre and the St. Elisabeth Cathedral.
Every hour on the hour the park resounds with distinctive carillon from the twenty two bells that have adorned the park since 1997. In the summer the singing fountain adds to the musical chorus, lighting up and shooting jets of water to the rhythm after music.
Right behind the theatre you can find the Plague Column of the Virgin Mary from 1723 (Immaculata). The column is situated in a small park and commemorates the gratitude to Mother Mary for an end to the plague epidemic from 1709 and 1710. It is a fine example of a Baroque sculpture surrounded by later sculptures of saints and angels. Legend has it that the bodily remains of St. Valentine are hidden under one of the columns.
East Slovak Museum
The underground safe for the Košice Golden Treasure, the all-wooden church in Kožuchovce, the resident exposition Nature of the Carpathians and Centuries of Art in the building at Hviezdoslavova 3, the only Slovak Wax Museum, the oriental memorial house of Francis II Rákóczi – Rodošto, the metal foundry exposition, the bells in the Executioner’s Bastion, and the walking tour and haunted tour Košice Through the Centuries in Mikluš Prison.
Wax Museum, Orban Tower
At the museum you can view 23 unique wax figures of famous personalities from the history of Slovakia and Košice, including pop-art guru Andy Warhol, the patron saint of the city St. Elisabeth Durínska or the builder of St. Elisabeth Cathedral, master Štefan.
Sándor Márai Memorial Room
The place of the personal belongings of the Europe's most read writer - the native of Košice, Sándor Márai. The Memorial Room is a showcase of the personal belongings of the writer: signed manuscripts, his globe, a cross, photographs and paintings, which recall this Košice native and world-renowned artist, creator of over fifty works – one of the core personalities of the project European Capital of Culture 2013. The renovation of Memorial Room was one of the first done projects of European Capital of Culture 2013. The Grosschmid family probably settled in this house in 1915. At the time, Marai was a student at the Premonstratensian High School. After moving to Budapest to continue his studies, he visited Košice only sporadically.
Slovak Technical Museum
The only museum in Slovakia with many expositions on various topics such as metallurgy, mechanical engineering, artistic metalwork, the development of geodetic equipment and cartography, or the development of typewriting machines. It also includes the Aurel Stodola energy department and a hall focusing on electric charge.
Slovak Technical Museum as the only one Museum with the technical direction on the territory of Slovakia affords the view to the history and to the tradition of the scientific and technic. Museum has accumulated more than 16 000 collections. A lot of them representing irreplacable values. The historical building of the Slovak Technical Museum was transformed in a Science and Technical Centre for youth and children. The exhibition is focused on presenting physical, chemical, astronomic and mathematical phenomena and know-how.
HUMNO Ethnographic Museum
Regional customs, traditional forms of livelihood, meals and dress, together with traditional arts and crafts, can all be witnessed at the untraditional private ethnographic museum HUMNO. Get to know the Košice region through an evening of folk culture, for instance.
The largest zoo in Central Europe in terms of size is highly popular thanks to almost 150 species of animals (which you can also adopt). Watch them being fed, take a ride on a pony, enjoy the many activities for children or the accompanying programmes (Halloween at the Zoo, Zoo Christmas, Night at the Zoo).
On 1 June 2013, a new Dinopark will open its gates in the Košice ZOO, extending its area by more than 5 hectares. Five moving models of Dinosaurs, 13 static displays consisting of up to 7 models, paleontological playground for children with a hidden skeleton – these are but some of the Dinopark’s attractions. Plans for the future improvements of the park include a 3D cinema, an educational trail about the life on Earth, a Dino Shop and Dino Grill. A huge gate will lead the visitors through a wall into the prehistoric world.
Fascinating university gardens where over 4,000 species of plant are cultivated, including 1,200 cactuses and their cultivars, which is the largest collection of its kind in either the Czech or Slovak republics. You can soak up the tropical heat of the greenhouses and get a feel of what it is like in a rain forest, and enjoy the expansive outdoor gardens. When visiting the botanical gardens you should definitely try to see one of the thematic exhibitions such as the magical exhibition of orchids, tropical butterflies, cactuses, carnivorous plants or the ever popular presentation of Bonsai.
East Slovak Gallery
East Slovak Gallery offers not only historical overview of the art of eastern Slovakia but also presents the work of contemporary artists. Seeing one of the gallery’s interesting exhibitions is a must. Gallery is mostly presenting the Košice modernism, an important period of art in Košice, in the beginning of 20th century.
In addition to the art of eastern Slovakia, East Slovakia Gallery also presents contemporary as well as older works of Slovak and international artists in Košice and the art of this region in other parts of Slovakia and abroad. In doing so, it closely cooperates with leading galleries in Slovakia, especially the Slovak National Gallery. Several internationally recognised exhibitions have been organised as a result of this cooperation. Rich collections of the Eastern Slovakia Gallery grow in value when exhibited not only by the gallery but also by many other institutions in Slovakia and abroad.
East Slovak Gallery was reopend at the end of 2013. The renovation of this gallery building created a new and complete cultural and educational space. It also provides space for other types of art including visual theatre, dance, lecture, press conferences, workshops etc.
Vojtech Löffler Museum
In addition to the permanent exhibition of Vojtech Löffler’s sculptures and a unique collection of self-portraits depicting leading 20th century Košice painters, this contemporary art community centre creates a space for the presentation of contemporary art and the young generation of artists.
A unique collection of Andy Warhol’s works, completed by art enthusiasts from the ‘Múza’ Hotel-based Mihal Gallery, Warhol’s Works was opened for public in February 2010. The gallery is a unique project that takes an interesting approach to presenting the life and work of the famous artist whose parents were born in the eastern Slovak village of Miková. A glass staircase containing visuals of Andy Warhol’s works, leads you to the exhibition room. The unique nature is this gallery is underlined by the presence of the artist himself, or rather his life size statue, casually seated on a huge Campbell Soup Can. Andy’s likeness is also present in the hotel itself. For more information about the life and work of A. Warhol, catalogues and videos are available in the gallery.
Taking a stroll around the fountain, you will come across the impressive entrance to the National Theatre building designed by architect Adolf Lang. The theatre put on its first performance back in 1899. In addition to the eclectic exterior with Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau elements, visitors will be enthralled by the rippled interior in the shape of a harp, beautiful components of Art Nouveau and scenes on the ceiling from the plays of world-renowned playwright William Shakespeare, created by Peregrin von Gastgeb from Vienna.
Old Town Hall
Inside the historical Town hall, which was built from 1779 to 1780 and has a distinct Kosice coat-of-arms over the balcony, stunning halls and representational premises of the city mayor can be found. Pasing through the courtyard you will come to the former Forum/Slovan Cinema, the reconstructed covered hall of which now serves for concerts and thatrical performances. The Kosice Visitor Centre and Design shop are situated on the ground floor.
The University Church
The beautiful building of the University Church of Holy Trinity is a Baroque jewel of the historic city centre.
The most vibrantly decorated church from 1681 is bursting with colours with a crosssection of renaissance and colourful baroque. It is typifi ed by personal access to God, reifi cated in the segregated side chapels with altars, which means everybody can pray in privacy. Just as well-known is the history of the land on which it is built. The church itself with annexed monastery and erstwhile university is interesting also for the illusion of the front wall, by a rare carved pulpit from the 17th century, stunning wall murals from Erasmus Schrött or the ceiling murals with scenes linked to the founder of the order of premonstrants, which you can only fi nd in Slovakia in Košice and in Jasov.
St. Michael Chapel
Synagogue on Zvonarska street
Among the houses on Zvonarska street stands the rather inconspicuous building of the oldest preserved synagogue in Košice from 1883 – a fi ne example of Moorish style. Right next to it is the entrance to the Jewish religious congregation and the prayer building. The courtyard contains the Rabbi’s apartment, premises and a fl at for the shochet (the person who ritually slaughters the animals and sells the meat from them), a kosher kitchen, town hall, offi ce and health centre for the congregation, as well as the oldest ritualistic pool, a mikvah.
For a long time Košice served as one of the vital commercial crossroads of Europe. It has always been the centre of Eastern Slovakia, a region of special importance within the Kingdom of Hungary.
Medieval Košice was one of the most densely populated urban areas of the Kingdom. In the 13th century, an association of 24 towns of the Spiš region was formed here, as well as the association of 7 mining towns and the so called Pentapolitana, which united the 5 most important cities of Upper Hungary.
The first written record of the city dates back to 1230. The oldest Hungarian guild regulations dating back to 1307 and the fact that in 1369 Košice became the first city ever to be granted its own coat of arms are testimonies to the rapid growth of the city, due to its strategic location and Royal privileges. Since the early 15th century, Košice presided over the Pentapolitana association and maintained its position as the second city of the Kingdom after Buda (today’s Budapest) from 1347 until the early 18th century. The founding of a university in Košice in 1657 was a natural reaction to its economic, administrative and political status.
The historical centre of Košice, whose medieval city walls were removed in the 18th century, is today formed by a nearly one kilometer long promenade lined with exquisite historical buildings, once inhabited by medieval kings and nobility. Together with craftsmen’s houses, churches, squares and narrow streets, they create an atmosphere full of legends and stories. You can uncover these and much more of the city’s history, science, culture and art at some of the exhibitions available in the city centre, dominated by a medieval square, the heart of the largest conservation area in Slovakia.
(Source: Košice' Visitor's Centre)