The town´s history in a nutshell
The first written record of the town of Spišská Nová Ves dates to 1268 when it was referred to as Villa Nova. But the town is much older.
Six regular settlements are known from Late Stone Age (Neolithic epoch, 5500 - 4000 Bc.) - Kapustnice I, Letná street, Rittenberg, Smižianska roveň, former februaroveho Vitazstva street (street of the February Victory), Ing. O. Kožucha street.
The first tangible monuments come from the Middle Neolithic period. They are thought to belong to the first farmers and domestic animal breeders. Late Stone Age - Eneolith (4000 - 2300/2200 Bc.) The territory of Spiš was densely populated by the people of Baden Culture.
At the turn of the Early and Middle Bronze Age (2300/2200 - 750 Bc.) the Ottoman culture determined the development.
The earliest Slavic monuments of the town may be placed in the 8th century.
Before the Tartar incursions in 1241 and 1242 there were several hamlets scattered over the territority of the town - Brusník, Stojan, Šág and Kozma (Paríž - Hnilec and Swanis). After the Tartars left, the surviving inhabitants founded a new village, “Nová Ves” - Villa Nova.
King Belo IV. had new colonists brought to this area to repopulate it, mainly from the region of Saxony, much of which was regularly flooded at that time. Between the years 1243 and 1271 these new settlers created a “Saxony colony” in the region of Spiš and gained many royal privileges. Nova Ves became known as “Neudorf” to the Saxons, or “Villa Nova” in official Latin, and it acquired a Hungarian name “Igló”.
The document of archbishop Filip from 29th November 1268 is the first written record of the town of Spišská Nová Ves referred to as “Villa Nova”. It is clear, though, that 1268 was not the year the town was founded, since the document in question mentions an already existing village with a church and a parochial house. The town was founded by the integration of an old Slovak village ’Iglov’ and newer German village ’Nová Ves’.
The first and the oldest school in town was a parochial-urban school that was established in the first half of the 14th century. The first teachers were priests. The education included reading, arithmetic and singing. The 7 liberal arts were at the core of what was called a higher degree of education: grammar, dialectics - logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.
The first written mention of the bell-founder Konrád is dated back to 1357. He founded the best known Gothic bell-foundry workshop in the Spiš region. Ján Wagner, a bell-founder from Spišská Nová Ves, was an important burgher and mining official who worked here from 1516. In the town there are still preserved two bells made by him.
On the 6th of December 1380 king Ľudovít I. allowed its inhabitants to arrange weekly markets. The day dedicated for them was Saturday. According to royal rules people could do business only on markets. At the end of the 14th century the town had fortifications of 120 and 220 cm, the ditch was 6 meters wide and 2 meters deep. 4 gates were constructed as a part of the fortification. Levočská brána (Levočská gate) is still preserved.
The coat of arms of the town of Spišská Nová Ves is known from the 15th century.
On the 30th of July 1408 a privelage document was issued by king Sigmund, which allowed the town to organize an annual fair always on the 15th August. These annual fairs lasted a few weeks and tradesmen came mainly from abroad (Poland, Romania, Russia) with a wide range of goods. They can be seen as a predecessor to the renewed tradition of the modern Spiš fairs.
On the 8th of November 1412, a document was signed the in Zagreb, and thanks to it, King Sigmund borrowed 37 000 Czech groschen that he needed for the war against Venice. At that time there was a prohibition of interest on loans, therefore, king Sigmund of Luxembourg gave the town as a deposit to the Polish king together with thirteen other Spiš towns. The period under the Polish predominance lasted 360 years, from 1413 to 1772.
On the 6th of December 1435 king Sigmund renewed and confirmed old privileges and granted Spišská Nová Ves the right to organize three annual fairs: the first one in the spring, the second one on the 15th of August and the third one on the 11th of November. Spiš Fair has become a widely known and very popular event.
In 1632 Ferdinand II. granted Spišská Nová Ves the right to seal papers with red wax, that was considered a great honour for the town. Before that the town used only green or black sealing wax.
In the period between 1672 and 1684 small bands of the Thőkőly army sacked the town twelve times.
In the time from 1709 and 1712 there came a disaster – a horrific plague. It appeared after cruel battles of the Rakoczy uprising and more than 2000 people died.
On the 5th of November 1772, in a big ceremony, the town of Spišská Nová Ves was returned to the Hungarian king. Maria Teresa endeavored for the affiliation of Spiš towns during the first partition of Poland in St. Petersburg in 1772. She acquired Halič with three million inhabitants and Spiš towns.
In 1774 it was the seat of the 13 Spiš Towns province, later in 1778 there were included three other towns. In the period between 1778 and 1876 she created the Province of XVI Spiš towns at the head of which was Spišská Nová Ves.
In the beginning of the 19th century a few traders settled in the town. In 1812 there was the first manufacture, namely of stoneware dishes (1869).
The oldest financial institution in the town was Sporiteľňa (Savings Bank) of XVI Spiš towns that was founded in 1846.
On the 2nd of February 1849 part of the Hungarian uprising army entered the town and a large part of the town together with the original church tower was burnt. Damage was so lextensive that the Hungarian government remitted compensation payment in the amount of 7,500 canaries.
Construction of the railway line Košice – Bohumín contributed significantly to the development of the town (1869 – 1871).
The Roman-Catholic Parish Church renovations began in 1886 – 1888. It was made in the time of a new priest Štefan Koštialik in the spirit of the gothic style. Koštialik gave for the renovation 3,000 canaries from his own funds. The renovation cost 25,000 canaries in total.
The neo-Gothic tower (87 meters high) was built between the years 1892-1894 according to the design of the professor Imrich Steindel. The reconstruction cost 42,000 canaries in total, the highest amount was paid by the town (19 660 canaries). The Neo-Gothic tower from all its directions is the most important and typical part of the town’s silhouette. It is the highest tower in Slovakia. For unknown reasons there is one mechanical clock in the lower part of the tower.
In 1894 a town generating station was built which considerably influenced and improved the living conditions of the inhabitants of Spišská Nová Ves.
In July 1929 the first Tatran exhibition took place in Spišská Nová Ves. It included so many exhibits that they had to be placed in 12 buildings. The exhibition was visited by 60 thousand people.
On the 24th of March 1939 the Hungarians bombarded the airport in Spišská Nová Ves. 5 soldiers and 6 unsuspecting civilians lost their lives. Spišská Nová Ves was the first town in central Europe which tangibly felt political crisis that led to World War II and which was already bombed before the war.
On the 27th of January 1945, all the horrors of World War II. ended. After several days of shooting, the Soviet army started to occupy the town and scoured German troops.