Kosice - An ideal location for a city Break
Pani Garmyder shutterstock
When I was invited to visit Kosice, my initial thought was, where on earth is that? So of course I immediately googled it, one of my friends said "Arr Russia " No! I said. It’s a city in Slovakia, it shared the title of European Capitol of Culture with Marseilles in 2013 and is situated on the river Hornád at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains, near the border with Hungary, trying to sound as knowledgeable and aloof as possible. I love it when I get the chance to do that (small minded I know)
So what’s it like? I hear you say well... it’s a medieval gem awaiting discovery. (textbook heading don’t you think?)
Kosice has a great diverse amalgam of architecture, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Cubist and Functionalist, styles you would assume that at the very least would clash, but this blend of architecture is striking, I didn’t know where to look first.(did you like all those big words?)
The main attraction is the long and wide main street ( Hlavna) bordered by merchant houses and palaces, the central island houses three magnificent structures, St Michael Chapel, and St Elisabeth Cathedral which you can’t miss as it dominates the square, I took the challenge and climbed the 160 steps up the churches tower, which I regretted at step 100, but carried on anyway, my pride wouldn’t let me stop, especially when a couple clearly older than me seemed hardly out of breath, anyway it was worth it once I had reached the top, as you had fabulous views of the city and the State Theatre. Kosice is a lively university town and when I visited you could see the students lounging in the parks listening to music (they are the same world over) it just adds to the laid-back feel of the city.
Just as delightful is the lanes and squares off the main street, here you will find Dominican Square, the oldest place in the city, and of course, many bars and restaurants perfect for one of my favorites pastimes, drinking, eating and people-watching which was great fun, the food was very good, there wasn’t one meal I had that I wouldn’t have said wasn’t enjoyable. The fact that almost all of the sights are in and around the town's plaza-like square, makes this an ideal location for a city break.
Kosice has introduced a succession of new attractions, including major art installations in a variety of imposing restored buildings and an assortment of events to invigorate the city streets, as luck would have it, my visit coincided with the Kosice wine festival which is held in mid-September, I have mentioned my favourite pastimes haven’t I to imbibe? I sampled some of the best Slovak and foreign wines at the Executioner’s Bastion (also known as the Rodošto House) the wine festival was a great highlight to of the trip.
Festivals and events
Some of the city’s festival highlights include Košice City Day (the first week in May), followed by the City Festival at the end of the month, both offering a variety of middle-aged entertainment including crafts, historic parades, knight fighting, and more such merriment. There’s the aforementioned Košice Wine Festival in mid-September. The oldest marathon in Europe, the Košice Peace Marathon, is run on the first Sunday in October.
The city has cosmopolitan clout and a buoyant cultural scene plonking it firmly on Europe's city break map I loved the buzzing cafes and restaurants, it's hard not to love the city or, at least, want a spirited affair.
Visit Hrnčiarska Street - the Crafts Lane!
The enchanting historic Crafts Lane with its period paving and tiny houses is enchanting, a bit like a Disney film. The smell of bread in the aromatic bakery is fantastic, with herbs for medicinal or refreshing tea from the herbal specialist, buy a leather bag at the bag makers at really reasonable prices. Artistic metalworkers produce original pieces to take home as souvenirs, there is also pottery, and precious stones to be had, all traditional crafts.
Out of town
On the outskirts of the city you will find wonderful countryside, including Central Europe’s majestic cave network, here is the gateway for exploration of villages that keep the countries craftsmanship traditions alive.
Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka: Keeping traditions alive
Located at the village of Krásnohorská Dlhá Lúka is the Gemer Craftsmen Association, visitors can watch the highly-skilled craftsmen and women at work, open to view all year round, soaking twigs harvested in the area, before manipulating them into all kinds of basket work, producing thread for making carpets and rugs. Building furniture, designing and creating jewellery, and again that fantastic smell of baking bread using traditional recipes.
At the end of August, a craft market, attracting more than 2,000 people to about 40 tents and stalls is held, selling guaranteed hand-made products, where visitors can enjoy several traditional Slovak performers on a makeshift stage.
GRANARY IN JABLONOV NAD TURŇOU
The Granary is a medieval feudal granary with a wine cellar situated in the village of Jablovov nad Turňou. Previously used as a grain granary, wine cellar as well as food and fruit storehouse. It has been said that the local wine was delivered as far as Vienna. The granary building belonged to the Eszterhazy Family.
The granary is now managed by the association Alma-centrum, which deals with tourism development. It offers traditional gastronomic delights, fruit and vegetable exhibitions and homemade bread. The upper floor of the Granary is used to accommodate tourists, who can take the opportunity to sample some Turňa wines.
The manor house Betliar
East of Slovakia, in the valley of the Slaná river, is the fairytale-like two-storied manor house Betliar, it’s a stately hunting manor unusually encircled by a delightful English park, which has been included on the list of world historic gardens, featuring several structures including an artificial cave and waterfall.
The building’s interior is very attractive, it has a gallery, library, music, and hunting hall, it is furnished with antiques, the redevelopment of this property won a EUROPA NOSTRA award. Built on the site of the original Bebek castle from the 15th century. Part of the wall of this castle was used for the alteration of the Gothic mansion into the Renaissance-Baroque three-storeyed manor house in the 17th -18th century. The appearance of the manor house from the 19th century has been preserved, with minor modifications.
Where to stay in Kosice
I stayed at the Hotel Ambassador which is located in the historical centre of Kosice, it has a stylish restaurant, a trendy Café, a wellness area, and includes free Wi-Fi.
Get Me there
Wizz Air’s Kosice to London Luton has 4 flights per week
(Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday).
Košice airport is just 6 kilometers south of the city centre.