Vitebsk town hall - interesting sight with a difficult history
Long time ago, in the late XVI century when the duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and King Sigizmund III Vasa decided to give the town Vitebsk the then necessary right of self-government; it turned out that in the town there had not yet been a suitable building for meetings of the government. Then with the efforts of the townspeople there was constructed a town hall that at the time was wooden. A short time later the town was deprived of this right; and it was agreed to demolish the building of the town hall as useless. A few years later, due to historic changes and reforms, the Magdeburg right was returned to the town. Then it was agreed that there was again a need to construct a town hall. The town authorities resolved to make the first two storeys of brick and the rest part – of wood. This building is shown in the drawings that have survived since 1664.
During these turbulent times the building of the town hall was several times destroyed, burned and then restored. In 1775 there was constructed a brick building that has remained its original appearance.
At various times in the building there were different organizations and institutions. It even served as a look-out tower for firemen; therefore it is still popularly named “kalancha”.
The restoration and the new life of the sight of Vitebsk
Engineering and restoration works were started in the early XIX century. Then a t the top of the tower there was installed an enormous clock so that people could see what the time was from any point of the town.
Near the town hall one can see a memorial sign that was installed in memory of partisans and underground fighters that had been executed in the square in front of the town hall during the Great Patriotic War.
In 1997 on the main facade there was installed a two-meter long bronze coat of arms of the town to commemorate the 400thanniversary of the town hall. The author of the coat of arms was the sculptor Valery Moguchy. In 2000, when the restoration of the town hall’s exterior was started, the coat of arms was removed from the facade. However, upon completion of the works it was returned to its place. Now it is installed in the foyer on the first floor.
During the archaeological excavations in the underground of the town hall there were found remnants of the basement masonry that had been laid as early as in the XVII century. After long-term examining of these fragments, the archaeologists concluded that those were the remnants of the town hall shown in the drawings of 1664. In architectural terms the town hall is designed in Classicism and Baroque. It is due to the fact that the town hall was constructed at the turn of centuries when one architectural style tended to replace the other one.
Today in the building of the town hall there functions the Town Museum of Regional Studies.
The town Hall in Vitebsk is the archietectural pearl of Belarus
The town hall is a landmark of the town. It is recognized as a monument of architecture of the XVIII century; and it is one of the town halls that have survived in the territory of Belarus to our days. It is situated in the center of the town so it attracts attention of all its guests.
Visit to the monument of architecture of Belarus, located in Vitebsk, is included in the program of many excursion tours across Belarus. Immediately at the entry one feels the spirit of antiquity, sees the history of the whole town since its foundation up to the modern times, and all its changes. Vitebsk is especially beautiful in winter - therefore you can visit it during New Year's holidays.
All people that come to the town Vitebsk should visit a lookout offering a picturesque view of the entire town.