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Kosice: Atmosphere, Architecture & Hidden Treasures

By Sean Mahon

Posted: 29th September 2014 15:45

Košice is more than a main street filled with fantastic attractions and jostling tourists.  The special atmosphere that pervades this city is enhanced by the winding back streets, alleyways and courtyards that invite exploration.  No matter where you are in the city centre, you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from history, culture and heritage. 

St. Elisabeth Cathedral

More than a symbol of admiration for Košice’s patron saint, St. Elisabeth Cathedral also stands as a feat of architectural brilliance.  Construction began in the 1380s, and today stands as the biggest temple of worship in Slovakia.  Visitors will unearth a number of sublime treasures, such as the Altar of St. Elisabeth and a rare Gothic double-spiral staircase (just one of five in Europe.)  Climb the 60-metre tower for stunning views and a chance to examine the beautiful front façade in greater detail. 

St. Michal Chapel

The chapel, located just a short distance from St. Elisabeth Cathedral, was constructed during the 14th Century.  It is a true representation of the Gothic period, and its intricate design inspires intimacy and harmony.  At one time, this beautiful chapel was surrounded by the city cemetery, hence its dedication to Archangel Michael, the escort of departed souls.  His statue is placed above the entrance to the statue; he is depicted judging souls before granting them passage to heaven. 

National Theatre

A pleasant stroll around the fountain will lead you to the impressive National Theatre.  Designed by eminent architect Adolf Lang, the theatre first opened its doors in 1899 and has been enthralling theatre goers ever since.  The theatre’s façade is a stunning example of Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau influences, whilst its soaring ceilings depict beautiful scenes from the plays of world-renowned playwright, William Shakespeare.  Each scene was lovingly and painstakingly painted by Peregrin von Gastgeb, the famed Austrian artist. 

Jakab Palace

Wander down Mlynska Street and you will soon come to the site of the breathtaking Jakab Palace and the enchanting artificial brook, Mlynskynahon.  Surprisingly, given its grandeur, the palace was not the residence of nobility, but the private dwelling of well-known local builder, Peter Jakab.  Aside from this magnificent abode, he also built the National Theatre and the East Slovak Museum, all serving as lasting testament to his skill.  In 1945, the palace became the official resident of Edvard Beneš, President of the Czechoslovak Republic. 

The Executioner’s Bastion Complex with the Rodošto

The best example of medieval fortresses found in the city, and the largest bastion in Slovakia, the Katova bašta (Executioner’s Bastion) once protected the main entry entry point into Košice.  The grounds of the bastion are home to the memorial house of Francis II Rakoczi; the last leader of the anti-Hapsburg uprising, his memorial is named after the place of his exile, Rodošto in Turkey.  Every June the Executioner’s Bastion hosts the Košice Gurman Fest, a much anticipated culinary celebration. 

Mikluš Prison

Between the 17th and 19th Centuries, two attractive Gothic houses that boasted a well-reputed pottery workshop were converted into a prison and torture chamber.  In Hrnčiarska Street, visitors will uncover the Executioner’s House; today it houses a museum (winner of the Exposition of the Year Award 2009) and takes guests on a journey to the past to explore Košice through the centuries.  Every May, during the Night at the Museum event, the prison comes to life with the ghostly wails of prisoners.  

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