Kosice is the second biggest city (with a LARGE population of 2.5 Lakh people) and also is the commercial capital of the country. Despite being so crucial on the Slovakia map, Kosice is a small little dreamy town, which all in all, can be covered in a day.
The tourist attractions in Kosice start and end on a street named Hlvana. Some of the attractions that are worth visiting are:
1. The Coat of Arms: Kosice is the first city in the world to have its own Coat of Arms and dates back to 1369. The Coat of arms stands proud beneath the wings of an Angel at the lower gate in the park.
2. St Elisabeth Cathedral: This is the largest church in Slovakia and is a major landmark of Kosice. It is a true representation of Gothic Architecture and looks stunning, both in day and night. Having done a couple of bell towers on this trip, we skipped climbing the tower, but the locals say that the views from there is worth the hike. You can’t miss this landmark from wherever you stay here.
3. St. Michael chapel: This stands right next to the cathedral and is a famous place for the locals to get married in.
4. The Town Hall: The Town Hall is a beautiful classicist building which hosts several musicals, theater and opera performances. During out stay at Kosice, the famous Mozart Opera, the Marriage of Figaro, was performing at the Town Hall. We unfortunately got late for the show and the cashier had already left for the day. We had given up all our hopes to see the performance. However, to our great luck, the manager at the Town Hall was an ardent fan of India and was learning Hindi. She was thrilled to find out about our origins and let us in despite being an hour late. Not just that, she let us watch the show gratis and offered us Box seats with the finest views!! We were overwhelmed by the gesture shown! The performance,despite being in Slovak, was a great rendition of the work .
5.The water and sound show: This fountain sits across the Town Hall. The beauty of this fountain is that it synchronizes its water pulse to the music being played in the Town Hall, if a performance is ongoing. Else, it dances to the sound of local/famous songs. It is a great place to people watch and have a drink/ coffee.
6. Immaculata: A tall Plague Column stands in the center of the Hvalana street which was built to express gratitude for averting the horrific incident. An archaeological museum called the Lower gate is located close to the Plague Column where you can find remains of the city walls below surface.
7. Kosice has lots of little cafes and shops selling souvenirs. One of the restaurants that stood out for us was Camelot which apart from serving great beer had the best food in town. The rich creamy garlic soup served in a super crunchy bread bowl hit the spot. The grilled chicken served on a ratatouille was also very flavorful.
8. Anyone who needs last minute purchase for their adventures ahead can visit the Decathlon store which can be reached by Bus no. 15/16, which runs every hour and ten past every hour and takes about ten minutes from the city centre. Decathalon never fails!
9.Having been on the road for over 15 days, we were missing home food and decided to go to an Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal– biggest food blunder! Please however much you miss food from home, don’t go here, it is nothing like home and will only give you an upset stomach. They added so much artificial colour to the food that despite washing my hands for an eternity, the colour didn’t wade off and kept us reminded of the mistake that we had made.
10. Spis Castle is a day trip from Kosice but if you are visiting the Slovensky National Park or the High Tatras, then don’t come back to Kosice and just head to Spis and stay at Levoca.
Spis Castle is the largest castle to be on a travertine hill in the world. It has a long history of invaders and your ticket entry to the castle also buys you an English (hurray) Audio tour. The audio tour is really good and gives you a good overhead about the folklore of the castle. The views from the castle are stunning and throw its many windows and crevices gives a 360 degree view of the flatland with towns built around the castle laid on a lush green carpet.
The tower of the castle is worth visiting. The audio guide told us that the once magnificent castle was burnt down because of an accident and what stands today is therefore only the remains of an age old castle. Despite the fire, the remains have been well preserved and does give a reflection of the life that would have been here (pretty sure it was easy- look at those views!!!). A torture room and a chapel sits at the base on either sides of the hall. Torture and then remorse before the Lord- sounds quite right! The walls and the lower Bailey had lots of options- archery, sword fighting and the like.
After a fun trip to Spis castle, the mountains were calling and we set out on our journey to the High Tatras!