Kassa, Main Street 1.

Yesterday we were in Kassa (since 1920 Košice, in Slovakia).

I have been longing for a long while to go there. Because of Sára. To see the city where she had grown up.

I was especially curious of the famous Schalkház Hotel, founded in 1872 by Lipót Schalkház, Sára’s German-speaking grandfather.

The beautiful eclectic building at Main Street 1 was one of the important centers of Hungarian art and literature.

From the guide it turned out that today the hotel on the place of Schalkház is called Slovan. No matter, I thought. It must have been renovated. We will see it anyway.

We saw it.

In order to get to the downtown of Košice, one has to pass for kilometers through all the filth of a former Socialist industrial city. And then one arrives to an enormous square where, on the side of a gigantic monument erected to the Soviet army of liberation

one finds two immense parking place, with the ruins of an once working fountain between them, where now hastily discharged bitumen alternates with weeds reaching to the knees.

On the one side of the parking place a County Cultural Centre-type building, once erected in the megalomaniac style of the seventies and eighties but since then completely abandoned, is falling into decay. An enormous red counter is still imperturbably counting something on its facade.

And on the other side – on the place of Hotel Schalkház – stands the Hotel Slovan.

A Socialist monster from 1971. In those times the address was Leninová 1. It is that kind of a “by tomorrow we’ll turn over the whole word”-like block-building which simply cannot be maintained, and after ten years is already completely eroded both in- and outside.

Today the street is called Main Street again. The change of the times is characterized by the general devastation, a newly founded casino inside, and the gigantic poster covering both sides to the height of ten floors.

The background of the picture is offered by the historical downtown turned into a disneyland, and by recently arrived Western consumerism represented by clumsy music shouting everywhere, the shops of multinational companies, and the units of public catering functioning in an unreal number. The people is happily consuming.

This is the exact summary of the history of Hungary. Hotel Schalkház. Hotel Slovan. Gloria Palac Pepsi.

It was very, very sad.

I asked Sára to help me to somehow get out from the despair completely overwhelming me.

And then I began to feel with how much love she is present here. That God does not leave these people to themselves at all.

I began to see those small splinters of culture that either remained here or were somehow recovered – a refined bunch of flowers at the Main Street florist, the Slovakian translation of a good English historical series in the bookshop, a bathroom in a restaurant beautifully covered with tiles – which, by virtue of their authenticity, can offer a way of being saved by God to those who want to be saved.

And I was consoled.


...and besides, on a wise inscription found in Córdoba see our post in Mesa revuelta, the Spanish-language blog of Studiolum.