THIS postcard from the 1930s depicting Prešov gives the impression of a thriving community with nicely arranged streets, newly-planted avenues of trees and ornate coaches driving by.
The town was most in bloom during the second half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century when it was known as “Little Vienna”, “Little Leipzig”, or even “Eperissimus florens” (Blooming Prešov).
During the 17th century these names were quickly forgotten. The wars in which the town was repeatedly involved made it almost uninhabitable. More than half of all the houses in the town were abandoned and the surroundings were completely deserted. This situation forced the town councillors to take extreme measures. They provided everybody who agreed to settle in the town a free house, citizens’ rights and exemption from taxes for several years.
It took Prešov over two decades to recover. The town has revived thanks to the range of crafts that are represented there and also thanks to the traditionally huge income from nearby Tokaj vineyards. The vacancy left by the German merchants and tradesmen who were killed in wars was gradually filled by Slovaks, Balkan traders, and, from the beginning of the 19th century, Jews.
8. Feb 2010 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan