The history of Presov goes back into the distant past. The area was populated since the stone age. This territory was inhabited by Slavonic settlers by the end of the 8th century. Our ancestors practiced agriculture, pasturage, handicrafts and metalworking. Originally an agricultural settlement developed in the 12th century into a settlement of craftsmen and traders.
Presov is mentioned for the first time in a historical document dating from 1247. The craftsmen traded their goods mainly in the town and its surroundings but some exported their goods to more distant regions. The first guilds appear in the 14thcentury. By 1256 there were nine of them. The merchants benefited from an advantageous position of the town. The second half of the 15th century and the whole of the 16th century was the period of the most remarkable prosperity of the town.
Two events were of far-reaching importance for Presov and other East Slovakian towns in the 16th century : religious reformation and Turkish expansion. The 17th century was characterized by decline caused by the unsettled situation in the state. The wave of anti Habsburg uprising in the 17th century, the epidemic of plague in 1710, and also the great fires of 1711 devastated the town.
From 1720’s an economic life was again being stabilized and the crafts and trade began to flourish. The second half of the 19th century is marked by economic stagnation and the gradual decline of crafts owing to competition with cheaper factory products. The most important facilities in the town were salt mines and saltworks and the mill in Velky Saris. Salt has been extracted near Presov since the very remote past, first from freely flowing streams, later by mining and, after the salt mines has been flooded in 1752, by pumping out the salt water and lettimg it evaporated in the saltworks.
Already in its feudal period Presov was an important cultural and educational center. It became the home of many outstanding architects, painters, writers and pedagogues. The visit of Comenius in the 17th century led to the adoption the progessive pedagogical methods at the local school.
The establishment of the Presov College in 1667 attracted to the town a number of able teachers such as Jan Berger, Isaac Caban, Elias Ladiver and others who founded the so-called Presov philosophical school.
Other important personalities of old Presov include Jan Weber, the pharmacist and long time mayor, Jan Adam Raymann who was the first in Europe to inoculate against plague, the humanist poet Jacobs Jacobeus. One of the outstanding Slovak students at the Presov College was the poet P. O. Hviezdoslav in early 1870’s. The most important architectural monuments are
Parish church of St. Nicolas (gothic style)
- is dominant building and the most ancient architectural monument in town. It was the first stone building built in Presov (St. Nicolas = patron of sailors and merchants). There are valuable gothic plastics and the baroque alter in the interior
- built from public collection (College = ten class gymnasium). It was attented by a number of prominent personalities - P. O. Hviezdoslav, J. Jesenský, J. G. Tajovský.
- A sculptural group on the building is to commemorate murdered victims of Caraffa’s trial and contains a list of their names. The group was created by Béla Markupp (he is an author of giant lions in front of Budapest Parlament) and represents a man in yeoman clothes, ready for execution. He shows no fear of death. He symbolizes 24 martyrs, who were executed in 1687.
Rakoczi Palace (Renaissance style)
František Rakoczi II., the leader of uprising against the Hapsburgs was the last owner of the
building. It is typical seat of wealthy feudal lord. Today there is a Museum of National History.
It is the only reservoir preserved out of 10 town tanks. The fountain represents an island withe
Neptune Surronded by water animals. Markus Holländer had it built as a manifestation of gratitude to
the town for providing civic rights. He was the first Jew to settle in Presov.
St. Mary Sculptural Group (Trinity) (Immaculate)
It is situated on the original place of execution of Caraffa’s trial. Presumably from fear that this place
might become a memorial place of Protestants, the sculptural group was built up here to
commemorate the victims, of plagues whitch caused the death of the majority of Presov population. Calvary (Baroque complex)
Is built on the top of the hill above the town. It is popular place for walks. The whole complex
includes the Way of the Cross, involving 12 chapels, the church of St. Cross and the chapel of Saint
Is situated near the former town walls.
Cathedral church of dt.
John the Baptist (Baroque style)
Stands on the place of the original town hospital.
Evangelical church of the Trinity (Renaissance style)
The Black Eagle (originally town public house)
Klobušicky palace (materpiece of Italian masters)
The Caraffa prison (gothic building) – storage of wine, arms
Town hall – one of the oldest buildings, used as a trading place, wine cellar.