When somebody mentions the city of Košice, many people immediately think about monuments like the St. Elizabeth Cathedral, singing fountain, or Jakab’s palace. But do you know that the largest city of eastern Slovakia has its own castle? And not only that, but even the 4th largest castle in our country! And it’s the place where the steps of our TripTeam in today’s TripTip will head to! Join us on his courtyard, walk through the massive walls and get off at the lookout tower, which is located at the top of the castle!
We wrote about how to get to this metropolis of the eastern Slovakia, which is Košice, in one of our previous articles. After you get to the Station Square (Staničné námestie) in front of the railway station, your first step is to find the right public transport stop. We are looking for the one from which the line number 29 with the final stop “ZOO” leaves.
Keep in mind that you can spend a few minutes on this activity as there are several stops in the square. But when you get around, you just have to study the timetable and wait for your bus. It runs at approximately half an hour intervals. And when you finally get on your yellow-blue “carriage”, your little expedition into the Middle Ages begins!
We did not joke with the word “expedition” because after getting off at the “Lookout Tower” stop (Vyhliadková veža), a smaller tour starts. The castle itself stands on the top of the hill Hradová, so after leaving your mean of transport, you can prepare for about 10-15 minutes walk to a temperate, in some places less temperate hill.
The Green Empress
On the way to the castle hill you will be accompanied by arrows and various boards, one of which is this board with order from the empress Maria Theresa. At the beginning we read that the full wording of her title: “By God’s power, the Roman Empress, widow, Apostolic Queen of the Kingdom of Hungary, Czech, Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia, Archduke of Austria, Princess of Burgundy, Grand Duchess of Transylvania, Duchess of Milan, Manturas and Parma ”.
And after reading the first paragraph, which was devoted exclusively to the title of the ruler of the Habsburg family, we learned that already in 1769 people thought enlightened “green”. Accordingly, the Empress Mary II issued. a regulation entitled ‘Order of the mountains or forest conservation’, which set the conditions for cutting trees, regulated their harvesting and also envisaged forest regeneration for future generations. This forest order of the Queen of Hungary was translated in 1770 into the prescriptive cultural Slovak West-Slovak type (therefore, it rather resembles Czech).
Something nique over the city of Kosice
Our journeyis slowly going further and the ruined parts of the castle walls are already visible between the trees. Unfortunately, there is not much left of the castle and today it is only a ruin and a reminder of the medieval glory of Košice. But despite its condition, we rank it among the largest castles in our picturesque country with an area of 6.5 hectares.
The first stones were laid in the first half of the 13th century. Unique about the castle is that it was probably never completed. This is probably because Kosice stood nearby, and was soon equipped with modern fortifications and represented a new kind of medieval city. It finally found his fate as a source of building material, when the castle began to dismantle and the stones from its walls and towers served other purposes.
Immediately after we moved behind the walls of the castle, our eyes fell on the robustness of the walls, from which a triangular tower stood out like a bayonet! The tower with such a ground plan is another unique feature for Slovakia, which you can visit for free. Its shoulders are up to 19 meters long and have a wall thickness of more than 3 meters. This type of tower appears rarely in medieval castles and except Košice, you can also see such a tower at the castle in Uhrovec or Vinné, or somewhere abroad.
Be part of a history!
As we have already mentioned, not much of the 4th largest Slovak castle has survived. Some might have thought that they were actually just the stones arranged on top of each other, waiting for their inevitable destiny. But since we went to the castle, our journey was lined with many statues and attractions. After entering the courtyard, we were surprised to see the flower bed in front of the triangle tower and next to the walls. Onions, carrots and salad grew in it. When you find yourself in a castle, which is only a pure “rock”, you are in a museum where you can see just lifeless exhibits. But when you see a well-kept garden right next to the castle walls, the history even breathes out of it.
The reconstructed Slavic medieval houses reminding us of the times when the Old Slovak princes rode horses, gave us another positive impression. This impression was marred a little by the amphitheater built in the middle of the courtyard, but the little and the adult goats in the wooden playpen took our breath away! If you feel the place breathes through the history of the onion flower bed, you will become a part of it when you see the living animals in the castle as well as the Slavic dwellings.
Despite the poor condition in which the castle is, it is amazing how the local people try to bring the monument closer to the past and preserve it for future generations. Indeed, one can see that the locals respect history and care for this heritage, even if it is not in the best condition. It is very praiseworthy and many people could take an example from this. Let us mention, for example, the sad fate of the Žilina Castle, on a place where a shopping mall stands today…
But let’s go back to Košice. On the hill above the castle led stairs, leading around a cylindrical tower. It used to be one of the dominant features of the castle. The height of the tower currently ranges from about one meter to about two. In the past, however, it had to be at least 20 meters high! Are you wondering what it must have been from this tower to look at the enchanting panorama of the largest eastern Slovak city and its surrounding area? Fortunately, we have a solution for you. Right in the castle area is a lookout tower, which we will have a look at together!
There is no castle without a tower!
A steel and wooden footpath, leads directly below a steel tower 21 and a half meters high, reminding of the fading glory of ancient times when a massive tower was standing on the castle rock. We also went to the top of this tower to see how the medieval inhabitants of Košice living in the castle felt.
The view from this place is truly magnificent. After a few moments of climbing several stairs, you will see all over the region full of nice people. You will find a similarly nice approach throughout the city, as well as in a small buffet at the bus stop, where we drank Kofola and then hurried to chatch our bus. You will be surrounded by the massifs of Slanské Hills from one side, while on the other side you will have a view of the local stone quarry. And you will have the biggest town of eastern Slovakia, which is full of historical monuments, like in the palm of your hand!
Matej is a talktive person who comes from city which used to be known as “the pearl on the Váh river”. We are talking about the Žilina city! This beautiful agglomeration is surrounded by spectacular Slovak nature and plenty of old mediavel castles. Enviroment he grew up in became an object of his fascination and inspired him in interest of a local culture and history, as well as the history of his lovely Slovakia. These factors made Matej to becomes a guide at the nearby Budatín castle. Thanks to his passion you could be looking for the right amount of historical and interesting facts in articles written by him. He likes to stare at the country from the heighest floor of the 32 meters tall tower of Budatín castle, but much more he prefers literally sky views as he is a pilot. That’s why you would wait for some pictures of sights taken from the sky he writes about in his interesting reviews!