History of the City


Short History of Kosice
 
Košice – one of the oldest towns in Slovakia – lies at the place where the River Hornád emerges from its picturesque wooded valley and flows onto an extensive plain. This is a city with a rich and glorious past. It starts with the first mention of a community here in a document from the year 1230, when Košice is referred to as “Villa Cassa”. The town itself was founded by German colonists from Lower Saxony together with the original local Slav settlers after the year 1243. It is assumed that in 1290 Košice acquired town privileges, with the right to hold markets and fairs, collect taxes and build fortified walls. Further privileges granted in 1342 and 1347 gave Košice the status of a free royal town, ranking it as one of the leading centres of Greater Hungary. Then in 1369 King Ludovicus Magnus granted Košice a coat of arms, making it absolutely the first town in Europe to use such a symbol on the basis of a royal armorial warrant.
Following the period of economic flourishing and relative peace in the 14th and 15th centuries, Košice in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced troubled times as a result first of the Turkish invasion threat, then the religious conflicts of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and later the series of aristocratic rebellions against the Habsburgs. Despite repeated armed clashes, during this time the Jesuits were able to make Košice a seat of learning with its own university and secondary schools.
The confusion of the incipient Modern Age gave way to peace and progressive growth in the 18th and 19th centuries. The new Baroque architecture flourished here, followed by neo-Classicism and Romanticism; the aristocracy moved into the town, promoting the arts, theatre and social life. By the end of the 19th century Košice had developed into one of the most important industrial cities in Greater Hungary. In 1918 Košice became part of the first Czechoslovak Republic, and although the wartime Hungarian occupation from 1938 to 1945 brought economic and demographic decline, at the end of the Second World War Košice for a while became the capital of the re-established Czechoslovakia. From the 1950’s onwards the city experienced furious growth, accelerat­ed mainly by the building of the East Slovakian Steelworks. In the space of one generation there was a five-fold increase in the city’s population, and a twenty-fold expansion in its built-up area.