Košice (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈkoʃit͡se], also known by other alternative names) is the largest city in eastern Slovakia and in 2013 was the European Capital of Culture (together with Marseille, France). It is situated on the river Hornád at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains, near the border with Hungary. With a population of approximately 240,000, Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia after the capital Bratislava.
Being the economic and cultural centre of eastern Slovakia, Košice is the seat of the Košice Region and Košice Self-governing Region, the Slovak Constitutional Court, three universities, various dioceses, and many museums, galleries, and theatres. Košice is an important industrial centre of Slovakia, and the U.S. Steel Košice steel mill is the largest employer in the city. The town has extensive railway connections and an international airport.
The city has a well-preserved historical centre, which is the largest among Slovak towns. There are many heritage protected buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau styles with Slovakia's largest church: the St. Elisabeth Cathedral. The long main street, rimmed with aristocratic palaces, Catholic churches, and townsfolk's houses, is a thriving pedestrian zone with many boutiques, cafés, and restaurants. The city is well known as the first settlement in Europe to be granted its own coat-of-arms.
Another rebel leader, Imre Thököly captured the city in 1682, making Kaşa once again a vassal territory of Ottoman Empire under Principality of Upper Hungary until 1686. The Austrian field marshal Aeneas de Caprara got Kassa back from Ottoman Turks on late-1685. In 1704–1711 Prince of Transylvania Francis II Rákóczi made Košice the main base in his War for Independence. The fortress was demolished by 1713.
When not under Ottoman suzerainty, Kassa was the seat of the Hapsburg "Captaincy of Upper Hungary" and the seat of the Chamber of Szepes county (Spiš, Zips), which was a subsidiary of the supreme financial agency in Vienna responsible for Upper Hungary). Due to Ottoman occupation of Eger, Kassa was the residence of Eger's archbishop from 1596 to 1700.
From 1657, it was the seat of the historic Royal University of Kassa (Universitas Cassoviensis), founded by Bishop Benedict Kishdy. The university was transformed into a Royal Academy in 1777, then into a Law Academy in the 19th century. It ceased to exist in the turbulent year of 1921. After the end of the anti-Habsburg uprisings in 1711 the victorious Austrian armies drove the Ottoman forces back to the south and this major territorial change created new trade routes which circumvented Košice. The city began to decay and turned from a rich medieval town into a provincial town known for its military base and dependent mainly on agriculture.
Košice lies at an altitude of 206 metres (676 ft) above sea level and covers an area of 242.77 square kilometres (93.7 sq mi). It is located in eastern Slovakia, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the Hungarian, 80 kilometres (50 mi) from the Ukrainian, and 90 kilometres (56 mi) from the Polish borders. It is about 400 kilometres (249 mi) east of Slovakia's capital Bratislava and a chain of villages connects it to Prešov which is about 36 kilometres (22 mi) to the north.
Košice is on the Hornád River in the Košice Basin, at the easternmost reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains. More precisely, it is a subdivision of the Čierna hora mountains in the northwest and Volovské vrchy mountains in the southwest. The basin is met on the east by the Slanské vrchy mountains.
There are several theaters in Košice. The Košice State Theater was founded in 1945 (then under the name of the East Slovak National Theater). It consists of three ensembles: drama, opera, and ballet. Other theaters include the Marionette Theater and the Old Town Theater (Staromestské divadlo). Due to the presence of Hungarian and Roma minorities, it also hosts the Hungarian "Thália" theater and the professional Roma theater "Romathan".
Košice is the home of the State Philharmonic Košice (Štátna filharmónia Košice), established in 1968 as the second professional symphonic orchestra in Slovakia. It organizes festivals such as the Košice Music Spring Festival, the International Organ Music Festival, and the Festival of Contemporary Art. It is also the home of the Philharmonia Cassovia orchestra.
Košice is the seat of the Košice Region and since 2002 it is the seat of the autonomous Košice Self-governing Region. Additionally, it is the seat of the Slovak Constitutional Court. The city hosts a regional branch of the National Bank of Slovakia (Národná banka Slovenska) and consulates of Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Russia and Turkey.
The local government is composed of a mayor (Slovak: primátor), a city council (mestské zastupiteľstvo), a city board (mestská rada), city commissions (Komisie mestského zastupiteľstva), and a city magistrate's office (magistrát). The directly elected mayor is the head and chief executive of the city. The term of office is four years. The previous mayor, František Knapík, was nominated in 2006 by a coalition of four political parties KDH, SMK, and SDKÚ-DS. In 2010 he finished his term of office. The present mayor is MUDr. Richard Raši, PhD., MPH. He was inaugurated on 21 December 2010.
The oldest annual marathon in Europe and the third oldest in the entire world, after the world-famous Boston Marathon and the Yonkers Marathon. Košice Peace Marathon (founded in 1924.) is run in the historic part of the city organized every year on the first Sunday of October.
Ice hockey club HC Košice is one of the most successful Slovak hockey clubs. It plays in Slovakia's highest league, the Extraliga, and has won eight titles in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015; and two titles (1986 and 1988) in the former Czechoslovak Extraliga. Since 2006, their home is the Steel Aréna which has a capacity of 8,343 spectators. Football club MFK Košice currently plays in the Corgoň Liga. It was the first club from Slovakia reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and is a two times domestic league winner (1998 and 1999). After relegation in 2003, the club returned to the Corgoň Liga in 2005.
Košice, along with Bratislava hosted the 2011 IIHF World Championship in ice hockey.
Košice, became the 2016 European City of Sport by the European Capitals of Sports Association (ACES Europe). The sporting events in 2016 included "the International Peace Marathon, several urban runs, a swimming relay contest, the Košice-Tatry- Košice cycling race, the dance sport world championships, the Basketball Euroleague, Volleyball World League and Water Polo World League".