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Old Town Hall
06.11.2014 Administrator
grafika


Throughout the centuries the Old Town Hall has been the most famous and representative secular edifice of Toruń, where commercial as well as public and political life of the town focused. It was also the court building and the place of the town council gatherings. There the rulers were hosted e.g. the Masters of the Teutonic Knights` Order. The kings of Poland were staying in the building while visiting Toruń. Hence, one of the rooms on the first floor is called the Royal Hall. It is where one of the King, John Albert, passed away in 1501. Some historic events took there place too: in 1454 the emissaries of the king of Poland took the homage of the representatives of Prussian citizens, and in 1645 the brotherly conversation between Catholics and Protestants (Colloqium Charitativum) initiated by King Ladislaus IV Vasa, was held. Prussian and even Polish parliamentary assemblies took place in the building in 1520/1576/1626, as well as court sessions.

The present appearance of the Old Town Hall results from the evolution of the architecture of the Old Town Market. In 1259 the burgher`s house was built (the west side), and in 1274 parallel to it the bread stalls were constructed (the east side). In the south-east corner they built the tower (half the height of the present one), which was attached to the building and the wall joining it with the burgher`s house. Behind the wall the proper town hall was placed- the place of the council. Next, on the north side the court house in the shape allowing the openness of trials was erected, and on the north-west corner the hall of scales. Then in 1343 the building`s exterior was surrounded by tradesmen`s stalls, while the tower with the only clock in the town was heightened.

In 1391 the construction works on a new town hall began. They were sanctioned by the privilege of the Great Master Konrad Wallenrod in 1393. The old parts were pulled down to make space for the square edifice with a yard, which would combine various functions of the former buildings. The cellars were used for storing wine; the ground floor was meant for the well-off tradesmen (the halls in the east and west wings) and more humble ones (stalls along the halls, accessible only from the outside). The ground floor was also the place where court room and the hall of scales were located, whereas the town council and its offices could be found on the first floor.

At the beginning of the 17th century the building acquired the third floor, yet its Gothic form was preserved. Probably, it was done with the help of a Dutch architect, Anthony van Obberghen, who at that time was the city architect in Gdańsk and was summoned to Toruń to make new fortifications. The building was embellished with gables and corner spires, combining bricks with stone elements according to the Dutch mannerism. It was then that the interiors of the first floor were refurbished, especially the Council Hall was decorated opulently with the paintings by an outstanding artist Antony Moeller of Gdańsk. The works of art were destroyed during the siege of Toruń by the Swedish army in 1703. Then the fire caused by the artillery shooting demolished the Town Hall. The work on rebuilding and refurbishing the edifice lasted from 1722 to 1738. The west side was reinforced by the baroque ryzalit, which was rebuilt in neo-gothic style in 1869. In the 19th cent. the building was solely the place of the town authorities in Toruń. At the end of that century, the layout of the building was customized for the needs of town offices, e.g. the Grand Hall (Burghers` Hall) was divided into smaller rooms. The collection of Stadtisches Museum, which had just been established, was placed on small space on the second floor in 1861. The Town Hall stayed the seat of town authorities till the war. Since 1946 the building had been used by the Museum and the State Archives. In 1957 the first one overtook the whole edifice, which was then rebuilt once again in the attempt to achieve its original layout suited for the purposes of the museum. In the years 2000-2004 the conservation works on the outside elevation took place. Additionally, the decoration was reconstructed partially. The Old Town Hall has regained its splendor of the most imminent edifice in the town.

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06.11.2014Administrator
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