The world may now finally realise what Košice residents have long known: that East Slovakia's industrial powerhouse has cosmopolitan clout and a buoyant cultural scene plonking it firmly on Europe's city-break map, fiercely independent of Bratislava. As 2013's European Capital of Culture, Košice has accordingly initiated a new string of attractions including major arts installations in a combination of impressively revamped buildings, and eclectic events to enliven city streets.
Košice was always a medieval gem awaiting discovery. New enhancements build on an arts scene already home to the paintings of Andy Warhol and one of Europe's loveliest theatres. Its vast oval-shaped námestie (central square) contains the largest collection of historical monuments in Slovakia, enlivened by a myriad buzzing cafes and restaurants. Out of town, nature encroaches spectacularly with the delights of Central Europe's grandest cave network. It's the base of choice, too, for forays deeper into the tradition-seeped east.
Košice received its city coat of arms in 1369 before any other city in Central Europe and for centuries was the eastern stronghold of the Hungarian kingdom. On 5 April 1945 the Košice Government Program – which made communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia a virtual certainty – got announced here.