Luník IX. The infamous, misunderstood housing estate Pope Francis plans to visit

Papal trip puts Eastern Slovakia’s segregated Roma settlement in spotlight.

(Source: TASR)

Anyone googling pictures of Košice, Slovakia’s second largest city, is likely to come across images of the majestic St Elizabeth Cathedral, or the city centre’s historic buildings and romantic streets.

But what foreigners planning trips to Slovakia’s second largest city are unlikely to learn much about is that part of Košice is also home to the largest segregated Roma settlement in Slovakia – the Luník IX housing estate.

Although just a 15-minute drive from the centre of the city, it is rarely seen by most visitors.

But in a few weeks arguably one of the most important visitors to Slovakia since its independence, Pope Francis, will stop there as part of a tour of the country.

And although some experts on Church matters have said the Pontiff’s choice to visit the estate is unsurprising given his focus on people from marginalised communities, there has been surprise that the head of the Roman Catholic Church will be going to a place that many in Slovakia still see as a disgrace.

Ondrej Ficeri of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, told The Slovak Spectator that many Slovaks are ashamed that the place will be in the international spotlight because of the Pope’s visit.

“Many Slovaks have a feeling of shame around the Pope’s visit to this stigmatised district,” he said.

Ficeri, who is heading a research project into Luník IX, explained that the vast majority of Slovaks believe anti-gypsyism does not exist in Slovakia, but are at the same time ashamed of Luník IX because of the damage it does to Slovakia’s image abroad.

Myths and misconceptions

The Luník IX district, in the west of the city, was built in the 1970s. It was originally designed for 2,500 residents, but there are thought to be at least 4,000 living there. It is plagued by low living standards, and failure to pay rent has seen supplies of gas, water, and electricity cut off in many buildings. Unemployment among residents is also very high at as much as 90 percent.

It has become notorious abroad as a symbol of the worst aspects of Roma segregated settlements and failed integration of the minority in Slovakia.

The history of Luník IX goes back to the area in Košice once known as Gypsy camp (Tábor) which was located under Moldavská Street behind what is today the Steel Arena winter sports stadium.

The rest of this article is premium content at
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on and

Top stories

Employee in the Hella production hall.

German investor moves R&D to Slovakia, promises extraordinary salaries

The German concern Hella built four industrial parks in Slovakia.

17 h
Matt Apuzzo

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner will speak in Bratislava

Matt Apuzzo was awarded for his reporting on the surveillance of the Muslim community, Russia's impact on the US election and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

19. okt
Illustrative stock photo

State sent millions of euros in pandemic first aid to shell companies

It is possible that suspicious companies have gained up to €24 million from public finances.

21. okt
Opening of the time capsule of Michael's Tower.

Time capsule stored in Bratislava's St Michael statue 176 years ago reveals its secrets

The public can see the items found in the box in the Bratislava City Museum at the Old Town Hall this weekend.

22. okt
Skryť Close ad