Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quick and Dirty: Kosice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia
(Quick and Dirty)

Description:  Košice is the biggest city in eastern Slovakia and second largest in the country after the capital of Bratislava. It is on the Hornad River and among the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains. Košice is an important industrial center in Slovakia and the largest employer is U.S. Steel Košice. There are various courts, universities, religious building, museums, galleries, theatres, an international airport, and an extensive railway.

Košice has a high number of businesses for the population. There are approximately 20,000 businesses, nearly one per twelve residents of the city. Some of this stems from being one of the two 2013 European Capital of Culture cities (Marseille was the other city). This event drove research into the needs of the people, research into using untapped resources and making them into something usable, and spurred entrepreneurs to start their own companies. Many of the efforts were put in to transforming the city from heavy industry to postindustrial with many other more creative options.

Population:  240,000 (Galatia, Romania or Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Conflict: Crime in Košice is not unknown. Women are encouraged to not go out at night unaccompanied. Gypsies and their children are a known nuisance. The political parties are under intense pressure to leave the mafia groups alone, including Hungarian, Russian, and Slovakian groups. The Slovak groups are actually the weakest of the mafias. The Russian and Hungarians keep the Slovaks in their place and in the country. The Russian groups include Ukrainian and Chechen organizations. There is some drug trade, mostly in amphetamines, The Slovakian groups stick to security services, construction, and ownership of restaurants and nightlife locations. Human trafficking in Slovakia exists at two levels. The first and most widely performed is moving product through the country. This includes women and children for sex trade and men for work trade. The second is the kidnapping and exploitation of Roma women and girls. The Slovakian government has been slow to support anti-trafficking laws and spends less than $100,000 USD on efforts per year.

1.  Parks:  There are two recommended parks within Košice. The first is one of the largest zoos in Europe, with fifty-five different species of animals. There is a focus on European animals. The zoo is located in the northeast section of the city. The second park is Mestsky Park. It is located between the main railway hub and the cultural center of Košice. This large park is part of a revitalization of the city following the European Capital of Culture. Many trees were felled, shrubberies were taken out, and areas were cleaned up. The process is not yet complete, but the park is accessible to the public.
2.  City Center:  Located along Hlavna ulica, this is the cultural center of the city. The area is filled with museums, galleries, churches, restaurants, vendors, and the luxurious Hotel Zlaty Dukat Košice. This location provides great opportunities for foot chases, clandestine meetings, and tailing unsuspecting targets. The north end of the square even has a medieval plague column:  The Immaculata.
3.  Palaces:  The city of Košice boasts at least eight palaces, from the beautiful Jacab’s Palace to the eldest, Former Town Hall. Andrassy’s Palace was converted into a large cafeteria and patisserie. Pongracz – Forgacs’ Palace is the Regional State Library and the Csaky – Desswffy Palace is the set of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic. It also houses the biggest bookstore in Košice, selling books in multiple languages.

Three Hooks: 
1.  Dolná Brána:  Welcome to the entrance into 13th century Košice. This is the original entrance into the city and original town fortifications. This was discovered by accident during the excavation and rebuilding of Hlavna Street in 1996. The Lower Gate Museum serves as the starting point for visiting these old remains. The Dolná Brána has yet to be completely excavated and tours are usually only available from May to September. Tourists looking to get lost in creepy tunnels may accidentally stumble upon hungry vampires. Agents looking for tools to use in their war against the conspiracy may follow a lead to Henri Solon’s Scepter of Penance (see Eden Studios Presents volume 2) down amongst the ruins.
2.  Nočná MoraThe Night Owl is a nightclub involved with the Pitovci gang members. They use the nightclub as a front for selling smuggled cigarettes, heroin, cocaine, and running prostitutes. The nightclub is rather large and the décor is black with occasional highlights of gold and silver. This serves well to hide the various secret rooms and hidden cameras throughout the nightclub. The Night Owl is only open on Thursday through Sunday and gypsies are typically not allowed on premise. Agents following money may come across this nightclub and find a lead to another level of the Conspyramid. Failing that, the Agents may just settle for destroying a crime organizations primary money maker in the city of Košice.
3.  Csaky – Desswffy Palace Bookstore:  Bookhounds will want to explore this bookstore. The fact that it is in the same palace as the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic may cause some concern. After all, if the palace is a court, there are bound to be many police officers in the building. While this is true, the police would never expect Agents on the run due to Heat to enter this palace. A constitutional court and a bookstore – why would international criminals come here, unless it was to turn themselves in to authorities? The bookstore’s curator, one Tatiana Thokoly, claims to be the descendant of a prince from the 1700s. Tanya’s collection of books includes early editions of hard to find books in their original languages. Tanya will not reveal her sources of the books, but rumor has it, she uses burned agents left over from the Cold War. The potential ties into the Conspiracy are endless. 

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