I bet you can’t name the city that will hold the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture for 2013 can you? Actually there are two cities that will share the honour in 2013; Marseille in the South of France and Košice in the east of Slovakia.
Košice in Slovakia
In September 2008 the Slovakian second city, Kosice was the first in the country to be awarded the highly-coveted title of European Capital of Culture to run throughout 2013. The last few years have been spent preparing the host city and planning cultural and social events. Kosice boasts of a rich heritage and is built on a heavy-industry infrastructure. Forged from Austrian and Hungarian history coupled with a post-socialist reality the city of Kosice (which is second in size to the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava) exudes a multi-cultural identity. The city is in the beautiful Carpathian region, at the foot of the Tatras Mountains and within close range of the Schengen border. Schengen refers to the united unmanned border crossing within much of Europe, thus creating a gateway into the rest of Eastern Europe. The city now looks to a future filled with creativity, innovation and ideas.
Dubbed “The City of Peace” Kosice offers stunningly preserved architecture from the Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau periods with an abundance of palaces, museums and theatres to explore. The local arts scene is alive and kicking as is the party scene. And being surrounded by such appealing landscapes, Kosice is also an ideal base for a walking and climbing holiday. Tackle the Tatras Mountains during your stay.
Notable sights in Košice for travellers include the stunning Gothic masterpiece that is St Elizabeth’s Cathedral, which has recently undergone extensive refurbishment, ready to greet visitors. Visit as many of Kosice’s stately palaces as you can – they are all stunning – such as Andrassy’s Palace, Bishop’s Palace and the Hadik – Barkoczy Palace. As you’d expect there are also plenty of museums to learn from and be inspired from such as the Sándor Márai Memorial and the East Slovak Museum. For a full guide, read our post on Top 7 Things to do in Kosice and the official Kosice 2012 site can be viewed.
Marseille in France
Sharing the honour of the title of European Capital of Culture is Marseille which is the second largest city in France, after the capital city of Paris. Marseille sits on the southern coast, a historic port city on the Mediterranean and is the gateway to the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. Marseille is the antithesis to Paris in that it’s slightly edgy and more laidback in a casual kind of way, maybe harking back to its seafarer roots. Close to North Africa the city also picks up on these vibes culturally; spot the hybrid markets/bazaars and try the fusion food.
The carefully arranged buildings tell their own tale; after all, this city dates back some 2,600 years! The seafront offers typically magnificent south-of-France beaches, islands and hideaways. There is a glorious 57 km of seafront here including 20km of the pristine Calanques distric.t The Vieux Port contributes to this with its bustling traditional fish market.
Marseille has Greek and Roman origins and offers up a huge variety of art, history, heritage and culture for travellers to discover. Effortlessly suffusing tradition and modernity the city is equally proud of the 16th century fortifications as it is of the 21st century architectural wonders. The city is home to an abundance of monuments, museums and places of interest.
Marseille also hosts a stage at the Tour de France 2013. Stage 5 on 3 July will set off from Cagnes-sur-Mer and end 219 km later in Marseille.
Travellers should include a visit to the handsome Notre Dame de la Garde which offers panoramic views out over the city of Marseille. Spend time chilling out at the Calanque de Morgiou region; catch some fish to make your own local bouillabaisse maybe. Explore the castles, cathedrals and palaces that tell their own fascinating tales.
For a full guide on what to do in Marseille, read our Top 7 Things to do in Marseille. The official host site is http://www.mp2013.fr/attente-en/ but is not available in English yet.