Kosice – close and distant

In 2013, the honorary title of European Cultural Capital will belong to the Slovak city of Kosice – the center of Eastern Slovakia, Uzhgorod twin. By the way, Marseilles in France also got the right to be called a "cultural capital". It was decided by the European Parliament – once a year one country offers one city from an old EU member and one from a new one.

Already today, in the Slovak town preparatory work has begun, the reconstruction of historic buildings is continuing. To successfully carry out all activities a non-profit community organization has been created – “Kosice 2013”together with a special website. Mayor Rikhard Rashi and the townspeople believe that the title of "European capital" will open the local charm not only for Western visitors, but also for tourists from Ukraine and Russia.

 Kasha Villa – the first name of Kosice

The first mention of Kosice dates from the year 1230, the city was listed in documents as Villa Kasa. No wonder that the Hungarians call the city Kasha, which sometimes brings a smile of tourists from the East. Generally, a lot of parallels can be drawn between Kosice and Transcarpathia. Indeed, this region has long been ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary and this influence is felt even nowadays both in a way of common people’s life and in the architecture and national cuisine. Just remember our Beregovo, which was also called Villa Lamperti at the beginning – on behalf of the owner. Also in 1241 the Hungarian King Bela IV invited immigrants to the city – German Saxons, who were to raise the devastated region after the Mongol invasion …
However, the most significant event for the city was on May 7, 1369, when King Carl Robert I of Anjou, in gratitude to the city for their help in the battle for the Hungarian throne, presented  Kosice the right to have its own coat of arms. And it almost equated it to Buda – the main Hungarian city. Now the Day of May 7 is considered to be the day of the city and is celebrated on a grand scale. On this occasion, in 1998, Kosice was visited by the famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who pleased the townspeople with his magic voice.

From Andy Warhol to the Tokay wine

Some of the activities planned in the city for 2013, are being held now. In particular these are various festivals. For example, in May, the festival of street performers Use the City is expected to take place. On May 19, Kosice invites you to the Night of museums and galleries – it’s the only day of the year when excursions continue even after sunset. From June 6 to June 10, the city will release balloons and everyone will be able to look at them from a bird’s flight. During the “Gourmet Festival” (Gurmán Festival) from 22 to 24 June there will be a great opportunity to get acquainted with the gastronomy of the region. In June a great festival of Jewish culture will be held (before the Second World War, Jews constituted here about 20% of the population). This event is directly related to a similar annual fest in Krakow, Poland.

Undoubted symbol of Eastern Slovakia – the world-famous artist Andy Warhol, whose parents, Ruthenians, were originally from the town of Mikova. August 6th, the birthday of the founder of the style of "pop art", will Pop-Art-Party with numerous exhibits. Many activities and devoted writer Sandor Marot, who was born in Kosice in 1900.
An undoubted symbol of Eastern Slovakia is the world-famous artist Andy Warhol, whose parents, Rusins, were originally from the town of Mikova. On August 6, on the birthday of the founder of the “pop art” style the Pop-Art-Party with numerous exhibits will take place. Many activities are devoted to the writer Shandor Marot, who was born in Kosice in 1900.

The summer tourist season will be closed with the Wine Festival (September 13-15). I must say that it is only 65 kilometers from Kosice to Hungarian Tokay. However, Slovakia has its own Tokay and Tokay wines. Disputes with Hungary as to the use of the name continued for a long time. The fact is that when in 1908, the boundaries of Tokay wine region were officially established, Hungary and Slovakia were parts of one state – Austria-Hungary. Tokay also got Slovak wine regions near Trebishov. As early as 1918, litigation began as to who had the right to use the name "Tokay". The Hungarians were even buying for some time all the wine produced in Slovakia. It was only in 2010 that Slovaks got back the right to use the trademark "Tokai". It was the decision of the European Commission, since the Slovak wines in this region are made of the same grapes (Muscat, Furmint and Lipovina) and the same technology is used.

Singing Fountain and the grave of Franz Rakoczy

Among the outstanding architectural monuments of Kosice is the Slovakia’s largest Roman Catholic cathedral of St. Alzhbety, named after Queen Elizabeth (1207-1231), who is considered the patroness of the city.

Among the other attractions of Kosice is the City Hall Opera House, amazingly similar to the famous Vienna opera. Here the "singing fountain" is located, the water of which shimmers with different colors to the music of Beethoven, Debussy and Schubert. Near Jesuit Church there stands a monumental 14-meter "plague column" erected in 1723 in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary – in gratitude for deliverance of the residents from the plague.

In Kosice there are 238 000 inhabitants, and every year it is visited by approximately 120,000 guests, 60% of them come from abroad. If earlier Transcarpathians went to this city mostly for shopping, now more and more people are just willing to relax and see something new and interesting.

Although it is only 100 kilometers from Kosice to Uzhgorod, the owners "of the Hungarian Schengen" have to do a threefold hook. After all, at the Slovak border those who had obtained a Schengen visa at the consulate of Hungary have repeatedly had problems. This can significantly reduce the number of tourists from Ukraine who would like to visit close but still distant Slovakia.

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