Old town walk
An extension to the city walk Top Highlights of Košice will take you to other places that are concealed from common tourists in the little side streets. You continue along to discover the medieval fortifications of Košice and the dungeon, the Košice prison, the palace on the riverbank, the nooks and crannies of City Park, Košice’s best known writer, the symbol and names of the winners of the Peace Marathon and the place where the golden treasure is to be found. Duration of the tour is 2.5 hours.
From the Košice Visitor Centre you make your way firstly to the entrails of the city. The Dolná brána is so named for the underground museum complex with original gateway to the city and parts of the original town fortifications, which were established in the 2nd half of the 13th century. They were uncovered when the main street Hlavná street was being reconstructed in 1996. Today, thanks to its unique atmosphere the complex is now a place of exhibitions and the traditional Košice Wine Festival in September.
The name of this Košice native will mean nothing to many people, but we might recognise the names of his works from geography lessons. Just a short distance from the exit from the underground museum you can witness the statue of Košice-born engineer Béla Gerster – designer of well-known ship-ways, canals and railways, including the Panama Canal or the Corinth Canal.
The Shire Hall
One of the typical features of Košice palaces is the placement of a coat-of-arms on their main facing. The coat-of-arms of the former Abov-Turniansky territorial unit from 1558 adorns the Župný Dom building, which served from 1779 as a centre of the unit. Now a home to the East Slovak Gallery houses, in addition to premises for art expositions, an exquisite meeting room and the smallest public cinema in Košice.
As you come out of the Gallery, you enter into a small park. At the front there is a bronze statue of the Košice coat-of-arms – the oldest and first ever municipal coat-of-arms in Europe from 1369. The beautiful angel with heraldic attributes spreads out its angel wings and as the protector holds the Košice coat-of-arms in its hands.
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.
St. Michael Chapel
The chapel, which can be found a short distance from St. Elisabeth Cathedral, comes from the 14th century. It represents the culmination of the gothic period and is surprising by its stylish precision, intimacy and harmony. At one time it was surrounded by the city cemetery and contained an ossuary. This is why it is devoted to the escort of souls to the other side, Archangel Michael. His statue depicting the judging of the dead souls is placed above the entrance to the chapel
St. Urban’s Tower
The bell-tower that houses the so-called Urban bell blessed by St. Urban - patron saint of winemakers. It is unique also in the sense that under the porticos there is a lapidarian – gravestones, which are rare examples of Early Gothic to Baroque art. The 45-metre high tower also contains the only museum of wax figurines in Slovakia.
Park with musical fountain and carillon
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.
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.
Immaculata (Plague Column)
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.
Old Town Hall
The last stop on this tour takes in the historic town hall, which was built from 1779 to 1780 and has a distinct Košice coat-of-arms over the balcony. Inside we can find stunning halls and representational premises of the city mayor, with one of them containing an effigy to the first men of the city from 1982. Passing through the courtyard you will come to the former cinema Fórum/Slovan, the reconstructed covered hall of which now serves for concerts and theatrical performances. The Košice Visitor Centre is situated on the ground floor.
The original two gothic houses with well-reputed pottery workshop were converted in the 17th to the 19th centuries into a prison and torture chamber. In the adjacent underpass over Hrnčiarska street there is the Executioner’s flat (awarded as 2009 Exposition of the Year). Today it houses a museum with the exposition “Košice through the centuries”, where you can experience the mysterious medieval atmosphere. Every year in the middle of May during the event Night at the Museum, the prison comes to life with real wails and screams of prisoners and those being tortured.
The Executioner’s Bastion and Rodošto
The most stunning example of medieval Košice bulwark and the largest bastion in Slovakia is the Katova bašta (Executioner’s Bastion), which protected one of the entrance points to the city – Maľovaná brána (Painted Gateway). The grounds of the bastion are home to a copy of the Turkish exile home of the last leader of the anti-Habsburg uprising, Francis II Rákóczi, which is named after the former name of his place of exile Rodošto, and which brings a touch of the orient to Košice. If you are interested in your own commemorative coin, announce it in advance at the Rodošto mint and you will have a unique souvenir to take home from Košice. In June the grounds of the Executioner’s Bastion become the venue for the special culinary festival Košice Gurmán Fest.
At the end of Mlynska street opposite City Park, the site where the enchanting artificial brook called Mlynský náhon was originally created is now home to this charming palace. The palace was not the residence of some noble family, however, but the private house of well-known Košice builder Peter Jakab, who was also responsible for building the National Theatre building and the East Slovak Museum. In April 1945 the palace enjoyed its greatest heyday, when it was the residence of the president of the Czechoslovak Republic, Edvard Beneš.
15 City Park
The City Park covering over 11 hectares is the gateway to the historic centre. It was established in the 18th century, and today popular sports areas and the city’s swimming baths are on its outer edge. The park is vibrant especially in the summer, when it comes to life with multimedia street theatre, and in October during the Festival of Lights, the Nuit Blanche.
The little side streets leading from City Park bring you to the sculpture of probably the most famous local of Košice – world-renowned author Sándor Márai, who spent his childhood and teenage years in the city. The sculpture shows him deep in contemplation ...
17 The Marathoner sculpture and the International Peace
At the end of Hlavná street lies Námestie Maratónu mieru (Peace Marathon Square), which commemorates the oldest marathon in Europe. Its symbol is a running man made by the sculptor Arpád Račko, together with the names of the winners of individual years. You can take on the 42 km run through the city every year in the first weekend in October together with thousands of other enthusiasts.
18 East Slovak Museum
Right behind the marathon runner sculpture there is a majestic New Renaissance building of the East Slovak Museum from 1896 to 1899. The most active museum in Slovakia in terms of the number of exhibitions, with numerous expositions, hides a true jewel in its vaults (when it is not travelling round the world), namely the Košice Golden Treasure.
Opposite the building of East Slovak Museum there is one the prettiest buildings in town, the building of Division. It was built for the need of the military command and is decorated by military attributes. Now it is a seat of Košice Self-governing Region. There is also an exposition of the East Slovak Museum with gothic, baroque and renaissance jewels and unique exposition from Carpathian nature.
Entrances: St. Elisabeth's Cathedral, Royal
Staircase, alternative entrance
For information about price, please contact:
Košice Visitor Centre, Hlavná st. 59, Košice 040 01, T: +421 55 625 88 88, E: email@example.com
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