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April 13th 2006
Published: April 21st 2006
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The Cathedral in KosiceThe Cathedral in KosiceThe Cathedral in Kosice

Trams no longer run on this line. It was feared that vibrations was harming the cathedral.
Kosice is the second largest city in Slovakia with about 300,000 people living within the city limits. Nancy and I agreed that the town has a much smaller feeling. Actually it felt like a small town. The old, central part of the city is quite interesting. The surrounding hills are covered with large, Soviet style, high rise apartments. Anyone who has seen the Soviet style high rise apartment buildings knows this is not an attractive sight. As time and money permit the city is rehabbing the high rises. Those completed are more attractive, but will never be considered beautiful. Nancy--.I thought the apartments were rather attractive with the interesting colors that had been painted on many of them. They were not just yellow, pink, etc. but were painted with designs on the ends. Another interesting thing about many of the apartments was that companies had painted large advertisements on the ends. Instead of a row of white concrete blocks this made a varied pattern of signs for different products.

US Steel built a large steel mill just outside of Kosice and has 16,000 employees and this, of course, has given this region's economy a major boost. This mill supplies a
Memorial Celebrating Russia's Liberation of KosiceMemorial Celebrating Russia's Liberation of KosiceMemorial Celebrating Russia's Liberation of Kosice

This is the only memorial I have seen with the Communist hammer and sickle.
majority of the cold rolled steel to Eastern Europe. Incentives were given to US Steel to build here, such as paying no taxes for ten years. But, that type of incentive is commonly used everywhere to attract business. Special trams and busses transport employees to and from work.

It seemed to me there is much less vehicular traffic on the streets and highways than in other European cities and towns I have visited. Even the highway going to the airport and US Steel was not heavy with traffic. The police seemed busy with radar traps and stop cars at random to be sure they have the proper papers for the car and safety equipment in the trunk.

A group of teenagers from Berlin arrived while we were in Kosice to help redecorate a shelter for abused women and their children. The local church people who were involved with the project were very pleasantly surprised at how hard the teenagers worked and at their creativity. Two evenings we went to restaurants with our hosts and the German kids. One specialized in pizza. Nancy and I had a Mexican pizza, nice, hot and spicy. The next evening the restaurant served typical Slovak food. Nancy had a salmon dish and I a pork and vegetable dish. Both were quite good.

Kosice, like other European cities, has a very good public transportation system. Frequent busses and trams run on time, are not expensive. Good public transportation systems are so nice for the visitor and for the populace of the city. Certainly it reduces the number of cars on the road. If I lived here I would never consider buying an automobile. I might rent one occasionally to take a road trip, but to buy one would be out of the question.

The Cathedral of St. Elizabeth, see the picture, towers above the middle of the old city, not just the middle of the city, but also the middle of the main street. The cathedral was built between 1378 and 1508. Tram tracks split and run on each side of the cathedral. However, they are no longer used. It was feared that vibrations from the trams were damaging the cathedral. This decision was made after the fall of Communism. Originally designed in the high-Gothic style of architecture the cathedral has been modified many times through the centuries. A guidebook I read said that today just about every architectural style known in the Western world can be seen in the Cathedral. I might agree up to a point. Thankfully I saw none of the modern, and to me ugly, glass and steel of modern buildings.

We walked into another church where an Eastern Week service was being held. "Everyone is speaking Hungarian," someone said. It turns out this church was a Hungarian Church. We thought it was an Orthodox church, but we are no longer sure this is true as the church had benches and there were no icons on the walls. However, it was a very beautiful church and we enjoyed seeing it very much.

Kosice was first mentioned in a document in 1230 when it was called "Villa Cassa" and is the first city in Europe to be granted a coat of arms. This occurred in 1369.

We enjoyed our stay in Kosice and would return given the chance.


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