First habitants came to the region of Prešov already in Paleolithic period. We know that from the oldest discovered tools which are more than 28000 years old. Further historical information is discovered only from the 8th century and later.
Prešov used to be a part of Kingdom of Hungary in the end of 11th century. The city was founded in 1132 by King of Hungary – Blind Béla and named after strawberries in Hungarian – Eperjes. After the Mongol invasions in 1241, many German settles moved to the city. The first written record of the town was in 1247. Eperjes received its municipal privileges from Andrew III some years later. Later, in 1374, it was declared a free royal town what had a great influence to the development of crafts and trade. In the 15th century, the city joined Pentapolitana – an alliance of 5 towns of north-eastern Hungary (Prešov, Košice, Bardejov, Levoča and Sabinov).
The first record of a school dates from 1429. In 1572, salt mining began in Solivar (at that time a nearby town, now part of Prešov). Prešov's increased importance meant that in 1647 it became the seat of the (Šariš) county.
In 1667 the important Evangelic Lutheran College of Eperjes was established by Lutherans in the town. In 1687 twenty-four prominent citizens and noblemen were executed for supporting the uprising of Imre Thököly.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the population was decimated by the Bubonic plague and fires and was reduced to a mere 2,000 inhabitants. By the second half of the century, however, the town had recovered; crafts and trade improved, and new factories were built. In 1752 the salt mine in Solivar was flooded. Since then salt has been extracted from salt brine through boiling.
In 1870 the first railway was built. This was a line connecting the town to Košice. At the end of the 19th century, the town introduced electricity, telephone, telegraph and a sewage systems. In 1887 fire destroyed a large part of the town.
In 1919, when Prešov was part of the new Czechoslovakia, a socialist revolution in Hungary spread here. Leaders declared a Slovak Soviet Republic in Prešov's town hall. Czechoslovak forces drove out the Hungarians and the Slovak Soviet Republic collapsed.
In 1920, after the Treaty of Trianon, Eperjes became part of the newly created Czechoslovakia as Prešov. During World War II, the nearby town of Košice again became part of Hungary as a result of the First Vienna Award. As a result, many institutions moved from Košice to Prešov, thus increasing the town's importance. In 1944, a professional Slovak Theatre was established in Prešov.
Contrary to unhappy political regime, town in the era of the building of socializm was industrialy developing. New companies were built and military base at the close airport was also expanded. But this nonsensical political system, on the other hand, ment early stagnation of the further technical development. Quality of living staied on the level of big block-of-flats-estates (estate Sekčov was the second biggest after Bratislava´s Petržalka), not talking about the historical monuments and sights which fell into ruins.
After the fall of communism and the birth of the independent Slovak republic in 1993, properties were given back to their original owners. Town finaly became colourful again. Today, Hlavná street is after huge reconstruction, only few more houses on the side streets are still waiting to be repaired. Town is dynamicaly developing, it has opened to the wide world and slowly first foreign investitions are coming in.