Europe Day Six: Slovakia. A Sunday Afternoon Walk In The Land Of My Ancestors, In Old Town Kosice

Europe Day Six: Slovakia. A Sunday Afternoon Walk In The Land Of My Ancestors, In Old Town Kosice

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It was a perfect Sunday afternoon in June when I took my first walk in  Slovakia, the country where my  paternal grandfather’s parents were born.  The sun was shining in calm , deep blue skies with a temperature in the mid 70’s. I left my hotel, the Hilton, in the city of  Kosice and walked across the street to the  scenic and historical Old Town of the city. 

I never heard of Kosice three weeks ago.  I only learned of this city when I planned this last minute trip to Slovakia .  I now know and love this wonderful  ancient city  located in the Eastern Carpathian mountains of Slovakia. I was here because, after some brief research done by my brother and cousins, I learned my maternal  grandfather’s father was born near  the town of Smolnik, and his mother in a village named  Valaskovce,  both about 40 mile from the city of Kosice. I hoped to visit both towns on this  hastily planned trip. It was exciting to now walk  in this city, where,  they could have met, and walked these same streets.  Like me, they could have walked onto the Old Town Square and saw  the beautiful Gothic Cathedral   St Elizabeth’s  Cathedral.

and been impressed like I was, with it’s size and beauty. This is the largest church in Slovakia and the easternmost Gothic Cathedral in Europe. 

As stated in my last blog, Kosice was located on a major trade route between the Baltic Sea and the Balkans, and Aegean and Adriatic Seas in the 14th  century. It was one of the first cities in Europe to be given a coat of arms by the king of Hungary in 1369. It’s importance diminished  as other trade routes were  discovered, but with the construction of a steel plant in the 1960’s it has again become an important city in Slovakia and the region, It is the second largest city in Slovakia with a population of 250,00. You would not know this walking the quiet and beautiful streets of the Old Town. 

In addition to St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral, I walked past many other beautiful buildings and parks. Next to the Cathedral was St. Michaels Chapel , built in the early 15th century. 

Walking past  St. Elizabeth’s I  saw, and heard,  the  enchanting  Singing Fountain for the first time. I would spend many moments watching these dancing fountains as classical music played from nearby speakers.  It was an unforgettable experience. The streets of Old Town Kosice were magical. I immediately fell in love with this charming city. 

I continued on the cobblestone Hlavana Street. the main street in the Old Town.

Next to the Singing Fountain was another impressive building, the State Theater, built in the late 19th century it is a beautiful building where you can atted  plays, operas or ballet. 

There was another fountain and small park just beyond the State Theater. 

I was enjoying these wonderful buildings and parks. It was an almost magical experience. And I thought of my great, grandparents  walking  these same streets, enjoying these same sights so long ago, before they decided to leave their native land for the promise of America. I am sure it was not an easy  decision. 

In addition to the Cathedral and other impressive buildings and parks the  cobblestone streets themselves were charming. They were lined with century old buildings that housed shops, small businesses and many restaurants.

And these  streets were filled with folks walking and enjoying the beautiful scenery and fine June weather. 

I explored a few more side streets near the old town and headed back to the hotel. 

On the way I decided to visit  the interior of St. Elizabeth Cathedral.  A mass was just ending as I entered, It was beautiful. 

The altar and large organ were amazing. I knew I would be  back for a closer look.

I finished my three mile hike and returned to the hotel. I unpacked, showered and edited some phots before I decided to eat. It was near 6 p.m. when  I walked to  the traditional Slovakian restaurant, the Med Malina. 

The  interior of the restaurant was just charming.

I was made to feel like I was at home by my waitress dressed in a traditional clothing. 

I first ordered the Polish beetroot soup which I enjoyed. 

Then  I ordered halusky.  It is the national dish of Slovakia. I was surprised when the dish arrived. In my hometown in Pennsylvania halusky are made with cabbage and potato dumpling. Here, this  traditional dish is made with sheep cheese or bryndzove and potato dumplings. It was much different than the halusky my mom made but it was delicious. 

And of course I had to try their pierogi the traditional dish of Poland the native country of my dad’s parents. They were good too. They served me a lot of them and I ate them all. I was quite stuffed It was a great first meal in my ancestors native country.

I took one last  look at the charming restaurant and said good night to the lovely waitress.

It was a beautiful evening but I had a long day and was exhausted. So I walked back  on the charming cobblestone  streets and past St. Elizabeth Cathedral   looking forward to the next few days I will be exploring this area of eastern Slovakia where my ancestors lived.   This is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my first hike in Slovakia. Europe Day Six: Slovakia Kosice June 5 2022. 

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage – to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.” — Alex Haley, Roots

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