History of Poprad Slovakia
The territory of Poprad was one of the first settlements of primeval man. The locality near Gánovce is known since the beginning of the 20th century by the finding of the cast of the cranium of primeval man. The cast is stored in the National Museum in Prague. The territory of the present Poprad was settled by Celts, Germanics, Tatars and Mongols. The name of Poprad is found in the oldest document dating back to 1209. It is the document of King Andrew II, who gives the Spiš territory around Poprad to the Priest Adolf and his sister. The donation document issued by the Hungarian king Bela IV dating back to 1256 is the real first mention about this small town. After 1241 people coming from Germany joined the original inhabitants. The Germans gradually outnumbered the original population and the name Poprad was changed to Deutschendorf. Later on the town belonged to Poland for some time. Gradually the administration and crafts developed here. In 1692 the paper mill was founded. This period is considered to be the turning point of the manufacturing and factory production. The year 1871 brought the significant turnaround in the development of Poprad. The railway was constructed in this year and Poprad became the centre of the upper Spiš region.
City of Poprad is situated in the centre of the Tatra Basin. Its area is 63 square kilometres. The city is the gateway to the High Tatras. Poprad is situated in the mild climatic area, but the local climate is influenced by the High and Low Tatra Mountains. Summer is usually short and cold here with the early snow at the end of September. The river Poprad with the small tributary – Velický potok – flows through the city. Poprad is classed as one of ten biggest Slovak cities and can be characterized as the important centre of the Spiš region. From the administration point of view the city of Poprad is formed by six parts – Poprad, Kvetnica, Matejovce, Spišská Sobota, Stráže pod Tatrami and Veľká. All together they have approximately 56,000 inhabitants. The majority of inhabitants are of the Slovak nationality. The dominant position among the ethnic minorities is held by the Romanies and the Czechs. Other minorities are represented by the Hungarian and the German minority. There are about twenty primary and high schools there. The Matej Bel University from Banská Bystrica has its subsidiary specialized on tourism here. The history of city of Poprad is the history of five small Spiš towns, independent in the past, that merged in the second half of the 20th century. The historical core of Poprad is formed by the classic Spiš square the centre of which is dominated by the Gothic Church of St. Egide dating back to the middle of the 13th century, containing the precious mural paintings and late-baroque main altar and by the Protestant Church built in the classicist style. The visitors can get acquainted with the history and the present of our city in Podtatranské Museum.The renovated building of the Old Paper Mill situated on the banks of the river Poprad represents the precious memory of the first paper mill in the Central Europe. The Tatra Gallery has its exhibition premises in the building of the Old Power Plant. Industry was damaged to a high degree during the war, but after 1945 it underwent a rapid development. Engineering industry was represented by two important enterprises – Vagónka producing railway carriages and Tatramat producing electric water tanks, electric ovens, zinc-coated dishes etc. In 1992 three enterprises were formed from it – Tatramat a.s. (production of electrical heating and boiling devices), Whirlpool Tatramat a.s. (production of home electrical appliances) and Quassar Tatramat a.s. (production of automatic machines for warm and cold beverages). Food industry is represented by the Brewery Tatran producing beer and soft drinks. The company Baliarne obchodu Poprad is also an important enterprise producing coffee, tea, grated cocoa, nuts, rice etc. Poprad as the gateway to the High Tatras is also an important centre of tourism. Besides many guesthouses and lodgings there are also several hotels here (hotel Poprad, Satel, Gerlach). Since 1993 the International Festival of Mountain Films, popular mainly among young people, has been organized here. To its inhabitants and visitors the city offers a beautiful panorama of the High Tatras, the smallest high mountains all over the world which have good conditions for hiking and mountaineering. The Tatras take pride in their splendid peaks like Kriváň, Vysoká, Rysy, Lomnický štít. The highest one of them is Gerlachovský štít which is also accessible for tourists with a mountain guide.
The Culture of Poprad
Podtatranské Museum (Under-Tatra Museum)- is located at Námestie sv. Egídia (St. Egide Square) in the building of the former Carpathian Museum founded in 1883 by the Hungarian Carpathian Association. Dávid Husz (also the founder of the Poprad brewery and the Husz park in 1868) was the most important personality who initiated the foundation of the Podtatranské Museum. At the same time also the Tatranské Museum (Tatra Museum) was also founded in Veľká. After 1945 it merged with the museum in Poprad.
Tatra Gallery- was founded after the war, and with its activities covered the whole Under-Tatra territory. At present it has the exhibition premises in the building of the Old Power Plant where the events on the national and international level are organized. The Tatra Gallery administers about 1,800 collections and it has organized about 600 exhibitions.
House of Photography- was opened for public in 1996 at Námestie sv. Egídia (St. Egide Square) and is administered by the Tatra Gallery. It deals mainly with the Slovak photographic scene.
When talking about culture it is necessary to mention dance groups. The dance group Fortuna is active in the field of ballroom dancing, the dance groups Trend and Trenďáčik practice modern dancing, and the dancers from the groups Vagonár and Letnička are devoted to the folk dance.
Cinema Tatran- which offers interesting movies every day is located at Námestie sv. Egídia (St. Egide Square) next to the renovated building of Reduta. Confectionery Domenico makes an integral part of the building of Reduta and cinema. It is really worth visiting.
In Poprad there are about twenty primary schools and the whole range of high schools – apprentice schools, high technical schools, high grammar schools and also business academy. The Faculty of Economy of the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica has its subsidiary in the premises of the City Hall.