06. 01. 2013. 00:00

Márai in Kassa

Follow in Márai’s footsteps in his native town! – A walk in Košice/Kassa, European Capital of Culture in 2013, in memory of the best known Košice-born person in the world.

This year the Slovakian city of Košice – Kassa in Hungarian, Kaschau in German – is the European Capital of Culture (besides Marseille). Several events are dedicated to Sándor Márai, certainly the best known Košice-born person in the world. Though Márai was a globetrotter, and would only return to his native town for vacations as an adult, the city plays such an important role in his works that during his visit to Košice, Otto von Habsburg said that he knew it perfectly well thanks to Márai’s books. (Košice belonged to Hungary when Márai was born in 1900, became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I, was temporarily ceded to Hungary in 1938, to be returned to Czechoslovakia after World War II.)

We invite you to ramble in places where Márai walked as a child, a teenager, a young lover and a young writer, and to taste the writer’s favourite wine.

Let’s start our walk in the historical centre, with Saint Elisabeth's Cathedral. This beautiful Gothic cathedral is certainly worth a visit – don’t miss the crypt, where the ashes of Prince Ferenc II Rákóczi had been placed. Rákóczi, who died in exile in Turkey, was the leader of the Hungarian revolution against the Habsburgs in the beginning of the 18th century. When he was reburied in Kassa in 1906, the whole town walked in the funeral march, including, most probably, the upper-class Grosschmid family. (Márai’s original name was Grosschmid.)

1st stop: Márai’s birthplace

The writer’s birthplace is located not far from the cathedral, in a small street called Mellék/Bočná Street – Szegfű (Carnation) Street in Márai’s time – at No. 6. This is where Sándor Grosschmid was born on 11 April 1900. The house has been reconstructed several times since then.

2nd stop: Adolescent years