Town Hall in Minsk

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Town Hall in Minsk

Getting there: You can take a subway and get off at the station Oktyabrskaya.

About Town Hall in Minsk

Minsk Town Hall, built in 1582, is located in the central part of Minsk, in Svabody Square [Liberty Square]. Today it is the center of the city's cultural life. For many centuries, it was a symbol of city residents' fight against feudal oppression.

The best bands perform near the walls of the Town Hall, Day of Minsk is officially celebrated here in autumn and many formal ceremonies are held in this building. For example, the best Belarusian biathlete, three-time Olympic champion Darya Domracheva, was appointed Goodwill Ambassador.

The history of the Town Hall is inextricably linked to the Magdeburg law granted to Minsk in 1499.  

The Magdeburg Law, which appeared in the 13th century in the city of Magdeburg, aimed to regulate the status and activities of citizens in a context of a feudal society. 

This right made it possible to create the Magistrate - an administrative, judicial and executive body of government, which was in charge of all areas of life in Minsk.

The Magdeburg Law relieved residents from many obligations and government officials, who were generally interested not in the well-being of the city but money. The city got its coat of arms and flag. 

The very first town hall was built of wood in H1 of the 16th century, but its exact location is unknown because archaeologists have not found any remnants. In 1582 a new stone town hall was erected in the garden in the middle of Liberty Square. 

In 1640, during a fire, the town hall was severely damaged. It was rebuilt and acquired its distinctive architectural appearance.

At the end of the 18th century the architect Fyodor Kramer added some features of classicism to the building. The author of the project completely preserved the constructive basis of the old building but added porches with balconies. The construction was completed in 1797. 

A town hall court worked here and volume and weight measures adopted in the city have survived here until the present day. Since 1785, the majority of functions of the magistrate were carried out by the City Council. 

The Magdeburg Law was abolished in 1795, after the third division of Rzeczpospolita, and in 1870, the magistrate itself was abolished. In the first half of the 19th century, the city hall housed a music school, a court, a theater, a library, a police department and even a guardhouse. 

In 1851, the Minsk City Council took a decision to demolish the town hall, as it obscured the cathedral church, but money for its demolition were allocated only in 1857. All this time, the former residence of the magistrate was empty. 

The Minsk City Hall restoration project was developed by Sergei Baglasov, who wanted to recreate every detail of the building. Historians and archaeologists had to try hard to get accurate information about the form of the building. Archives of Minsk, Vilnius, St. Petersburg and other cities were studied.   

In 2002, work began to restore the Town Hall, and in late 2003, the building was commissioned. It was rebuilt at the historically authentic site, which was corroborated by archaeological excavations. The internal design of the monument was not fully copied but the architects tried to keep its most valuable elements. 

On the second floor, there is a room for meetings and the receiving of dignitaries. It was here where the magistrate was once located. The first floor is occupied by showrooms and a museum of Minsk that tells visitors about the history and sights of the city. A model of the historical center of Minsk of the early 19th century is under a glass dome in the big exhibition hall. 

The square near the Town Hall was also reconstructed to give it a touch of the 19th-century Minsk. 

There is, however, one difference: the monument to Alexander the Second, which was demolished during the Revolution, was not restored. 

Along the perimeter of the square, there are benches in retro style, cast-iron lanterns and footpaths passing through the square. The inauguration of the town hall took place on 4 November, 2004.