Michalovce – the heart of the Zemplín region, a town with a rich history and interesting presence. This modern centre of the region at the river Laborec covers an area of over 50 km². More than 40 thousand inhabitants live here, putting it in 14th place among the 140 urban settlements in Slovakia. The town of Michalovce is the administrative centre of the district, itself part of the Košice Self-Governing Region. Michalovce is situated a distance of 58.7 km from the regional city and 481 km from the country’s capital. Good infrastructure, the possibility to live in single-family residences as well as in neighbourhoods, the high level of industrial and commercial development, the availability and wide range of services, cultural and social life, and the varied possibilities for sporting activities make this district settlement a good place to live.
The oldest settlement in the Michalovce area dates back to primeval times. Michalovce itself was first mentioned in documents as early as 1244, and it was recorded as a town in the early 15th century. Several important historical persons come from Michalovce or lived here for some time – e.g. Albert of Michalovce – the supreme representative of the famous Order of the Knights of St. John in Hungary in the Middle Ages – today the order is known as “the Knights of Malta”; Johann Friedrich von Mohr – a General in the Army of the Austrian Monarchy that fought in wars against Napoleon; Vojtech Pállik – a renowned Austro-Hungarian opera singer and painter; Štefan Sulyovszky – the “finance master” of Count Dionýz Andrássy; Teodor Jozef Mousson – “a painter of the Zemplín sun and people”; and Blessed Father Metod Dominik Trčka – a member of the Order of Redemptorists. Anna Brown, née Sztáray – a lady of the court of Maria Christina, one of the daughters of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, and Irma Sztáray – a lady of the court of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also called Sissi, were from the Sztárays family, closely connected with the development of Michalovce for more than 200 years. Irma also accompanied the monarch during her walk in Geneva where the Empress was assassinated.
Many significant persons have visited Michalovce. The most important of them include Emperor Franz Joseph I (he graced the town with his presence in 1851). The town is also closely connected with Jewish history. In 1867, 24 Hungarian rabbis met here at the famous “Synod of Michalovce”. Two Jewish cemeteries remain here; one of them is among the biggest in Eastern Slovakia. In 1867, Count Anton Sztáray put into operation a modern brewery here, and four years later – on Christmas Day – Michalovce citizens welcomed the first train. The first hospital in the Slovak part of Zemplín was opened in the town in 1876.
Today, Michalovce is a modern town. The renovated Square of Liberators (Námestie osloboditeľov) – a continuously lively main street where cultural and social events take place – is a combination of old and new, past and present. The foundations of an ecclesiastical rotunda building, a baroque-classicistic castle – today the seat of the Zemplín Museum, a Greek Catholic Cathedral from the 18th century, the Burial Chapel of the Sztárays family from the 19th century, and other historically and architectonically interesting structures are still present in the town’s territory. The water reservoir Zemplínska šírava, the Lake Vinné and the beautiful nature of the Vihorlat Mountains not far from the town represent a centre of fun and relaxation for thousands of domestic and foreign visitors.
Take delight in the elegant beauty of several renovated buildings from the 19th and the early 20th centuries, sit for a while at the Fountain of Love or admire the smart expediency of the Town Office building. Walk the sidewalk next to the Rainbow Fountain on the Square of Freedom (Námestie slobody) or just sit down on a bench in the Park of Peace (Park mieru) and feel the unique charm of the old trees. If you turn from the centre in to Duklianska Street, do not forget to enter the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral at the end of the street, where you will definitely be enchanted by the old-style icons of Russian masters on the walls.
Like the twisty rays of a sun drawn by children, the roads from Michalovce lead in all directions, and something new and unrepeatable is waiting for visitors along each of them.