kamila

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Culture in Kosice

In 2013 Kosice, as the first city in Slovakia, held the title of European Capital of Culture. And it was a well deserved award. The second biggest Slovak city, located in the eastern part of the country, has been always living in the shadow of bigger and supposedly cooler places: Prague, Brno (in the times of Czechoslovakia) or Bratislava. But when in 2013 all the lights were pointed at Kosice it turned out the city has so much to offer and can be actually one of the most interesting, even if not well known, places in Central Europe. The number of cultural projects and activities was overwhelming and now, 2 years later, Kosice still makes a perfect travel destination for all culture lovers! I was really surprised how many great spots are in the city, during my 4 days there I couldn’t be bored and I still feel I didn’t experience all I wanted to! So if you go to Slovakia and its second biggest city (totally recommended!) here’s a list of places and activities you cannot miss in order to get the most of culture in Kosice!


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culture in Kosice
street art

I’ve already written a separate post about Kosice street art but I will repeat it again – this city has the best street art scene in Slovakia and one of the best in (Central) Europe! Before going there I knew nothing about it and I was overwhelmed! Thanks to the local organization – Street Art Communication – walls of Kosice are covered in some really amazing murals created by world famous artists. The biggest number of works were created in 2013, during European Capital of Culture events, but Kosice has been being turned into a big street art gallery since 2008 and the plans for future look bright too!

Kunsthalle

A former indoor swimming pool now serves as the center for contemporary art that hosts exhibitions from all over the world. This architecture masterpiece, built in 1960s, wasn’t in use for a long time – River Hornad that was redirected from the center still managed to destroy the structure. For years the swimming pool was neglected, decaying quietly few steps away from the beautiful Old Town. But together with ECoC 2013 new funds for culture have arrived and it was decided to give a second life to the building and to turn it into culture center. The project was really successful as now it is a regional (or even Slovak) hub of art. This is the main venue for exhibitions, workshops or concerts that take place in an amazing yet quirky scenery. And outside there’s still a (working) swimming pool!

Kasarne/Kulturpark

Another place that was revitalized for ECoC 2013 and was actually the biggest project made for this event. A complex of old military barracks from 19th/20th century was transformed into another cultural center. Every building got a name after the aviation alphabet (so Alpha, Bravo, Charlie etc) and they are home to some interesting institutions, such as Steel Park, literature center or fashion lab. The whole place is supposed to be interactive, creative and serve to everyone therefore there’s a wide range activities available. And everything is surrounded by a nice, green scenery!

old wooden houses on top of the block of flats

This is definitely among the quirkiest piece of art I’ve ever seen and the one I loved big time! The typical old Slovak wooden houses were moved to the top of the concrete block of flats, so typical for this part of the world. The artist behind that idea, Tomas Dziadon, wanted to put years of history on people’s shoulders, literally, and he did it in the most creative way. But as it happens with the art it’s often misunderstood and out of 5 chosen location he didn’t get a single permission for his project. Eventually he put an ad in the newspaper and the location found him! It’s a random block of flats, one of many like this in Central and Eastern Europe yet its inhabitants were brave enough to deal with art. There was a lot of criticism towards Dziadon and his work but the wooden houses became kind of a symbol and can be seen even from far areas of Kosice.

cafe culture

One of my favorite things in Central Europe is its cafe culture and Kosice is no exception here, even if it’s not in the typical grand style like for example in Vienna or Prague. There’re so many nice spots in the city, I could easily spend a week there, just hanging out in the cafes and enjoy its vibe and relaxing atmosphere. Some of the best cafes can be found on Hrnciarska Street, probably the most beautiful lane in Kosice. This narrow street with colorful houses is where best craftsman stores and cool cafes, like Rozpravka, can be found! Closeby, on Zvonarska street, a “Friends”-themed cafe is located, it’s called “Smelly cat” so there’re no doubts how the place got its name.

Kosice has also a pretty good culinary scene with numerous restaurants serving delicious food. They’re busy till late hours, sometimes you have to wait a little bit to be served but it’s definitely worth waiting! My absolute favorite was Primi but I also enjoyed Villa Regia, Le Colonial, Camelot and Med Malina.

Tabacka

Probably my favorite place in Kosice. A former tobacco factory turned into the alternative culture center, with street art of the walls, a cool pub and interesting events every day. There’re concerts, theatre plays, workshops, movies screenings, discussions – basically everything you would expect in the place like this. The coolest kids of Kosice hang out in Tabacka and I can’t blame them as this spot is pretty awesome, I’d probably be there most of my time too! Every city should have their own Tabacka!

I really love how cities in Central Europe are changing, how cool and hip they become and how they’re ruled by the art (either street art, contemporary art or some other original works). And Kosice is a perfect example of how culture and its institutions are for people, easily reachable and offering something for each taste. That’s why I’m a big supporter of European Capital of Culture as it brings a lot of ideas and investments in this so well needed field and gives a big positive change to cities and its people. And even now, 2 years after this prestigious title, culture in Kosice is doing really well and as a result makes this Slovak place one of the most interesting city break destinations in Europe!

Here’s a map of all the places I’ve mentioned!

Make sure to watch this great video about Kosice made by my friends from Visegrad Hostels!

Have you visited any European Capital of Culture cities and experienced their changes? Do you think you’d enjoy culture in Kosice? Would you like to visit Slovakia?


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If you think of visiting Slovakia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!

 

Note: I visited Kosice in partnership with Visit Kosice however all the opinions are 100% mine, as always.

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2 Wrz '15

There are 42 Comments.

  1. Marcin - NRWTrip
    01:48 03/09/2015

    Very attractive entry and striking images.

  2. 01:55 03/09/2015

    Few months ago I met one girl from Slovakia and I hope to visit her one day soon. If I ever go to Kosice, I’ll definitely check out Tabaca and the cafes on Hrnciarska Street. I love this kind of atmosphere! I find some of the buildings, like Kundsthalle or those blocks of flats, very grey and sad. Maybe except those with street art paintings on them.

    • kami
      21:56 03/09/2015

      I actually really like the Kunsthalle building, such a wonderful architecture it is! but I guess everything depends on your taste! And as for the blocks of flats – we cannot escape them in Central and Eastern Europe unfortunately. And those in Kosice were actually pretty colourful! I really hope you will visit Kosice one day, it’s a wonderful city! Do you remember where was this girl from?

  3. For me Slovakia is still mysterious. I always choose Czech Republic. Kosice is a pretty place but I am not convinced to visit it.

    • kami
      21:36 03/09/2015

      yes, Slovakia has been always in the shadow of Czech Republic which is a shame as both countries are really interesting and beautiful, and so different! You definitely should give Kosice a chance, it’s one of the most surprising places I’ve visited this year! I’m still going to write some more about it, hopefully I will convince you then!

  4. Wow very nice street art :) I’ve never seen that great street art like here! One day I must go to Slovakia – it is very close from Poland :)

    • kami
      21:52 03/09/2015

      yes, street art in Kosice was pretty amazing! I really hope you will visit Slovakia soon, this country has so much to offer and is so close!

  5. Thanks for the overview Kami, I loved Eastern Europe during my time there though didn’t have nearlly enough time to explore. I remember reading your post on the street art in Kosice, and I’m a huge fan of unique street art, so a visit is hopefully in the works. Also a huge fan of “Friends” haha so I would make a pilgrimage partly just to say I’ve eaten in a cafe called “Smelly Cat” :D! Many reasons for travel right!!
    Meg Jerrard latest post…A Travelers Guide to Tap Water: Countries Where The Drinking Water is UnsafeMy Profile

    • kami
      21:58 03/09/2015

      I’m sure than now, after these few years, you wouldn’t recognize Central and Eastern European cities, they change so fast and in the way I love! Kosice is actually a great example of that so I really hope you will get to visit it one day! Street art and “smelly cat” are only two of many reasons to go!

  6. Byłem, potwierdzam! Koszyce mnie również urzekły ;)

  7. Jeszcze nie byłem, ale wygląda bardzo zachęcająco!

  8. Na mojej (dłuuuugiej) liście….!

  9. Kami, definitely good job with promoting Slovakia as a travel destination! I think this country nearly doesn’t exist in minds of majority of people. And yet, it is such an amazing place to visit: not crowded, full of natural beauty and small lovely towns! And yes, Kosice looks like a really nice spot!

    • kami
      15:45 14/09/2015

      you’re right, most people (especially from outside of Central Europe) don’t know a single thing about Slovakia, they often confuse it with Slovenia. Yet it’s such a wonderful country with so much to offer! Kosice being one of them :)

  10. Jeszcze nie byłam…na liście są ;)

  11. a myślałam, że Koszyce są nudne!

  12. Od Tw wpisu o tamtejszym streetarcie, intensywnie myślę nad wizytą w tym mieście

  13. Świetna rzeźba :-D

  14. Ivetka
    10:27 04/09/2015

    Thank you Kami for such a beautiful post on my lovely hometown :-). It truly is a hidden gem, albeit of course not the perfect one, but that’s why I love it even more :-). I hope it’s not your last visit! There is still so much to see! :-)

    • kami
      15:49 14/09/2015

      There’s no perfect place and Kosice is pretty amazing, more people should know about it! I’m sure I’ll be back sooner or later, I enjoyed it way too much!!

  15. O ktoś zgubił pantofelek… a może to tylko taka prowokacja? :D

  16. Wow, Koszyce prezentują się niezwykle ciekawie! Trafiają na moją listę! :)

  17. I want to go to Kosice! Right now!!!
    Tatiana latest post…Mumbaj na wyrywki: wyspa ElephantaMy Profile

    • kami
      15:50 14/09/2015

      I really hope you will go soon, it’s a perfect city break destination! And I’m sure you would enjoy it as much as I did!

  18. Simon
    21:26 05/09/2015

    Awesome post and pictures. I was in Marseille when it was the European Capital of Culture and loved it. I guess I’ll have to plan a trip to Kosice soon| Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
    Simon latest post…Appenzell Colourful HousesMy Profile

    • kami
      19:54 14/09/2015

      How is Marseille? I’ve never been there but it sounds pretty great! And you definitely should plan a trip to Kosice, it’s a wonderful city break destination!

  19. Kosice looks überhip – never really imagined that! I love the shoe in the first picture, very colorful. This definitely reminds me again that I should travel to eastern Europe more often …
    antonette – we12travel latest post…5 Reasons why I’m in love with Whistler!My Profile

    • kami
      19:56 14/09/2015

      You definitely should! Central and Eastern Europe is the best and there’re so many adventures waiting here! I think hiking in the Balkans would be your thing! And Kosice is pretty hip, you’re right! I guess no one really expects that :)

  20. Ewelina
    11:48 07/09/2015

    Fantastic place. I envy you these trips :)

  21. Rozważam, a jakże.

  22. Jon
    13:46 08/09/2015

    Greatest city on earth

  23. Oh man, I would LOVE the cafe culture in Kosice! It’s interesting as to why Dziadon placed the old wooden shacks on top of the new buildings, it’s certainly a neat perspective of art :)
    Ron | Active Planet Travels latest post…Trekking Off the Beaten Path: Vilcabamba to Machu PicchuMy Profile

    • kami
      19:57 14/09/2015

      cafe culture in Central Europe is the best and Kosice is no exception here! I could travel just for visiting cafes in the area! ;)

  24. Ooh I love street art that takes up the entire side of a building! I would love to explore and discover all of it. Oh, and of course I would HAVE to visit that Friends inspired cafe!!!
    Lauren @ Justin Plus Lauren latest post…A Day Trip to Murano From Venice, ItalyMy Profile

    • kami
      19:59 14/09/2015

      I’m always so impressed with this huge street art! I really don’t know how someone can make such a big piece of art without one single mistake! :) Street art scene in Kosice is pretty amazing, you’d have lots to discover! have you seen my other post, dedicated only to it?

  25. Ja się nie idzie tej sztuce wszechobecnej we wschodniej Słowacji – w końcu rodzice Andy Warhola tamże się urodzili! :)

  26. Sporo masz tych fot z Koszyc, ale na Lunik IX to chyba się nie zapuściłaś. Koszyce są na trasie mojej następnej wyprawy i chciałbym zobaczyć te największe getto Europy.

  27. Julia
    23:18 16/09/2015

    These restaurants look very charming. Is there a characteristic ingredient of regional dishes? For example, garlic

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