HISTORY TALKS...

Ilava

THE WESTERN Slovak town of Ilava, which lies along the river Váh, is famous among Slovaks for its notorious prison. The first convicts were interned in this former monastery in the middle of the 19th century, and today it still functions as a high security jail.
In its early years, prison wardens at this grim institution offered spiritual "education" to inmates by providing the "guilty souls" with religious teachers in a variety of faiths.



THE WESTERN Slovak town of Ilava, which lies along the river Váh, is famous among Slovaks for its notorious prison. The first convicts were interned in this former monastery in the middle of the 19th century, and today it still functions as a high security jail.

In its early years, prison wardens at this grim institution offered spiritual "education" to inmates by providing the "guilty souls" with religious teachers in a variety of faiths. But a combination of cruelty by prison guards and foul conditions, where as many as 20 people shared one cell, resulted in many riots.

Despite the building's forbidding presence, the local inhabitants of Ilava enjoyed some pleasurable distractions, by benefiting from the town's brewery and the occasional pipe of tobacco, although it seems few indulged in the weed. Statistics record that in 1734 only 24 people took to smoking in Ilava.

At the time when this picture postcard was taken, at the turn of the 20th century, one assumes there were significantly more smokers in the town and most certainly in the prison itself, which one can see in the background.

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