Košice, the European Capital of Culture 2013

Just one of the many reasons to go to Slovakia – The Little BIG Country

Košice Cathedral

Košice will find itself propelled into the spotlight in 2013 as the city has been awarded the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2013. Nestled in East Slovakia, Košice is well-known for its rich history, impressive architecture, and for hosting Nuit Blanche, a Parisian night-time arts festive attracting millions from around the world. Visitors can look forward to the opening of new arts and creativity centre in 2013 known as the Kasárne Kulturpark and the newly renovated 13th century Košice castle. In January 2013 the city will hold a spectacular opening ceremony, a street art festival named ‘Use The City’, and the mouth-watering ‘Gurmán Fest’ food festival.

The second biggest town of Slovakia KOŠICE is not only the centre of eastern Slovakia but also the core of the Eastern Carpathians where several ethnicities live.

History of Košice

The medieval town of Košice dates back to 1230. In the first historical documents it was referred to as Villa Cassa, later in Latin Cassovia, German Kaschau, Hungarian Kassa, and the Slovak Košice.

The town’s population acquired important privileges by becoming a royal borough in 1342. The date of 7 May 1369 is especially important as it received its coat of arms awarded by the king. Today it is celebrated as the “Day of Košice”. In the 15th century Košice with its 7 thousand inhabitants became the second biggest town of the Kingdom of Hungary following Buda and Bratislava.

The 20th century saw dramatic change in the town although the monuments were mostly political. On the last day of 1918 it was included in the newly formed Czechoslovak Republic; in 1938, it was annexed by Horthys Hungary for more than six years.

In April 1945 the Czechoslovak Government met for the first time on homeland ground and issued the document known as the Košice Programme of the Government treating the after-war arrangement of the free Republic.

Today the majority of its inhabitants are Slovaks coexisting with Hungarian, Czech and Roma minorities. The Východoslovenské železiarne (East Slovakian Iron Works, today U. S. Steel) became the biggest company not only of Košice but also Slovakia.

The Architecture

Almost all monuments of Košice are concentrated in the historical core of the town, the size of which makes it the biggest Town Monument Reserve of Slovakia. The spindle-shaped Hlavné námestie square of Košice is the heart of the town and rightly considered one of the most beautiful squares in Slovakia. It is closed to traffic and skirted by numerous wonderful historical buildings. The most valuable monuments are situated in the centre. Dominating the square and the town is the monumental Gothic Cathedral of St. Elisabeth. This building is the largest church of Slovakia and the most easterly situated Gothic cathedral of western type in Europe.

In front of the northern walls of the Cathedral of Košice stands what was originally Urbanova veža tower built in the 14th century. The Urbans tower and the chapel of St. Michael, former charnel house, from the end of the 14th century, which stands in front of the southern side of the Cathedral of St. Elisabeth form together a complete unique Gothic set of the monuments.

The area between the Cathedral and the theatre is a very lively particularly in summer with lots of live music.

On the southern part of the Hlavné námestie square are the medieval fortifications. In the basement of the fortifications are the reconstructed foundations of the Dolná brána gate, which is now used as an unconventional gallery and concert hall.

One of the most interesting exhibits in the Východoslovenské múzeum (East-Slovakian Museum) is the famous Golden Hoard of Košice. The overall weight of the hoard is 11 kilograms. The unique collection of golden coins came from 81 mints in Europe and the majority of coins are from the 15th to 17th centuries.

Wooden Churches

In the region around Košice are the famous wooden churches. From a religious point of view they serve the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Catholic and Protestant Churches. Most of them date from the 16th and 17th centuries and were built in different styles and used various building techniques but they have one thing in common, they are all made of wood.

The beauty is in the variety and the value is in their preservation. Inside them you can find period decorated altars, paintings, intricately carved pulpits and confessional booths and other religious artefacts. Apart from the nine of the protected churches which were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, there are more than 20 other similar gems to be found in eastern Slovakia

The naming of Košice as the European Capital of Culture will shine a well deserved spotlight the rich cultural heritage which can be found in Slovakia

For more information go to www.slovakia.travel and www.kosice2013.sk

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