Licensed tour guide Istvan Koteczki explains: “Kosice was one of the first free royal cities in the medieval Hungarian Kingdom. The city was a very important merchant settlement, due largely to its geographical location, on the way from the Hungarian Kingdom’s capital of Budapest towards the Polish territories, as well as its proximity to the gold, silver and copper mining cities.” If you decide to visit Kosice, here are 10 things not to miss!
St. Elisabeth Cathedral
St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral is the largest church in Slovakia and the easternmost Gothic style cathedral in Europe. It was constructed during the 14th-century and took more than 100 years to build. “The St. Elisabeth Cathedral is an important Gothic building from in the medieval Hungarian Kingdom, similar to the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany. Down in the crypt there is the important tomb of Franz Rakoczi, leader of an uprising against the Hapsburg dynasty between 1703-1711,” says Koteczki.
Kosice State Theatre
The beautiful building which houses the State Theatre was built in a Neo-baroque style during the late 19th-century. The interior is accented by rich details and watching a performance there feels like stepping back in time. Popular Shakespearean productions often take place here, as well as ballets and operas.
Perhaps the best time to visit Kosice is during the magical month of December, when Old Town Kosice hosts a stunning Christmas market. You’ll find hot mulled wine and alcoholic punch in various flavors, as well as traditional Slovak treats such as trdelnik, baked potato pancakes, and sausages!
Rakoczi Memorial House
This house is a replica of Ferenc Rakoczi’s actual house in Tekirdag, Turkey, where he lived in exile. Rakoczi was one of the most influential leaders of the anti-Hapsburg movement. “The Rakoczi Memorial House is the place where he lived until his death after his service in the independence war against the Habsburg dynasty. His statue can be seen in the courtyard of the building,” explains Koteczki.
Old Town Hall
The Kosice Visitor Center and Design Shop are located in this historical yellow building which was built between 1779 to 1780. Concerts and theatrical performances are often held inside its beautiful hall. Make sure to admire the many statues which line the facade.
Immaculata Plague Column
The Plague hit Kosice from 1709 to 1710. In 1723, the city of Kosice erected this Baroque plague column to thank Mary for an end to the epidemic. The pillar is very picturesque and you might never guess its troublesome significance unless you knew about Kosice’s struggle against the Plague in the early 18th-century.
Also known as the “Crafts Lane”, cobblestoned Hrnčiarska Street is a beautiful street perfect for souvenir shopping. Many local craftspeople have shops on this quaint street selling honey, embroidery, baked goods, pottery, and even local herbs.
East Slovak Museum
The East Slovak Museum was founded in 1872 to preserve the very best art from this region. Visitors can appreciate the collection of 16th-century woodcarvings, silversmith works, Gothic art, and 18th-century furniture.
Today, the Miklus Prison serves as a museum, but for 300 years these two old buildings served as a prison and for 350 years before that, people lived in these houses. The medieval buildings were restored in the 17th-century and again before being reopened as a museum. Visitors to the museum can learn about torture techniques which were used here, and view the tools used by executioners.
Kosice’s Botanical Garden is the largest in Slovakia and includes more than 4,000 plant species. It is slightly away from the city center and offers the perfect place to relax in nature while admiring the many diverse plant species, including more than 1,200 different species of cacti!