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Caraffa's wine prison

CARAFFA’S prison is one of the few well-preserved gothic buildings remaining in Prešov. Thanks to its appearance, as well as its name, the building invites rather grim associations. However, its history is much more mundane than its name would suggest.

CARAFFA’S prison is one of the few well-preserved gothic buildings remaining in Prešov. Thanks to its appearance, as well as its name, the building invites rather grim associations. However, its history is much more mundane than its name would suggest.

First of all, its name, which reflects the tragic events of 1687, when after a sham trial held by imperial general Antonio Caraffa, 24 Hungarian squires and burghers were executed on this square. Prior to their execution, the victims were tortured in the basement of what is currently the town hall, to which the building is connected. “The Prešov slaughter” became so ingrained in the town’s history that the name of this building stuck.

However, the gothic building that we see in this 1920s postcard was built with a different intention. At the beginning of the 16th century the town bought a house with an adjacent plot from one of the city councillors, Peter Moler. His house was later rebuilt into a wine cellar, and the structure, known today as Caraff’s Prison, used to serve as a store for wine casks and other equipment used in wine cellars. It is entirely possible, however, that the building also served from time to time as a prison.

Almost nothing about this building has changed in the century since this postcard was made, something that is not very typical for Slovak towns and cities, which have typically been marked by many dramatic twists and events in the 20th century. Of course, the wooden kiosk leaning against the façade is no longer there, but the entire building has been restored, and since 2012 it has housed the new town gallery.

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