On the outskirts of Košice, among the low mountains and surrounding forest are the ruins of Hradová Hill.
Very little is known about these ruins although they belonged to one of the largest medieval castles in Slovakia.
“It is definitely a castle established by a king,” said Matej Ruttkay, head researcher of the archaeological institute working to restore the site. “It’s proven by its large area as well as the dimensions of the two preserved towers.”
The ruins are still a mystery, either belonging to an unfinished castle or a fortress demolished shortly after people stopped using it. Archaeologists and historians are still uncertain why it was abandoned or destroyed.
On my day off work, I caught the bus to the last stop up the mountain and climbed through the dense forest to reach Hradová Watchtower, a restored post on the edge of the ruins offering sweeping views of the city.
At the end of a wooden bridge, I found binoculars strong enough that I could see Slovaks in the street miles below. It felt strange, being able to observe people from such great heights without their knowledge. I watched locals as they went shopping, walked their dogs and even played a football match in the stadium.
When I ventured back down the hill, I found carved wooden figures of animals lining the forest path. As I waited for the bus, I wondered about the ancient inhabitants of the ruins and what they thought about as they stood on their version of the Watchtower and watched the unsuspecting city below.