These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

South east Slovakia

 photo: Chris Togneri

The last stop on this year’s Spectacular Slovakia tour is in the southeast corner of the country. And where better to begin than in Košice?

Known as ‘the Jewel of the East’, Košice is home to central Europe’s grandest Gothic church outside Prague. It is also where visitors find a spectacular main street, known as Hlavná. Lined with dozens of newly refurbished buildings, Hlavná sparkles. There is a singing fountain, an open medieval gutter, and an underground exhibit of the remains of the old Košice, which were dug up in the mid-1990s. This square is the centre of city life, and a source of pride for all locals.

A square this magnificent naturally comes at a price. And, indeed, Hlavná cost the city a fortune, leading to its current debt problems that have the municipality scrambling to peddle its forests to make ends meet.

The man responsible is Rudolf Schuster, the current Slovak president and former Košice mayor from 1994 till 1998. Schuster has been accused of bankrupting the city as a result of the Hlavná reconstruction, a project that was mainly designed, the allegations go, to increase his popularity and assure Schuster of the presidency.

That may or may not be true. What is absolutely clear, however, is that the final product is nothing short of spectacular. If Schuster is to be blamed for the city’s debt, he should also be congratulated for its beauty.

To the west of Košice is the Gemer region, known for its three main attractions. First, there is Krásna Hôrka, a picturesque castle with a museum and a mummy inside. Next, there is the Betliar chateau, the former hunting lodge of an old Hungarian noble family. Finally, there’s Domica, a cave system extending into Hungary.

Wine lovers also esteem southeast Slovakia. In the small villages dotting the landscape from Trebišov to the Hungarian border, the sweet Tokaj wine is produced. Hungarian Tokaj may be more internationally acclaimed, but the Slovak version can be just as tasty. Tourists can visit a local winery to see firsthand the exacting processes involved in harvesting Tokaj.

From gorgeous main streets to Gothic cathedrals, international caves to delicious wines, there is something for everyone here.

Welcome to Southeast Slovakia.

- Chris Togneri

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2002.

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