The town hall and merchants’ rows in Shklov
The town hall and merchants’ rows in Shklov, Mogilev Region
The geographical position
Shklov is a town of Mogilev region located 35 km from the regional center.
The historical information
The date of foundation of the town is 1762.
According to the latest data, the population of Shklov is 16 425 people.
There is a unique attraction in the town – the town hall built in the late XVIII century. Originally the building was connected with the merchants’ rows, the first version of which was completely destroyed. The whole complex formed a closed composition. There was a courtyard inside it.
The construction of the main building of the town began in 1770, when after another large fire it was agreed to move the town closer to the river. The restoration of the town lasted almost 10 years. The town hall with the merchants’ rows was completed by 1772. Town halls were one of the main buildings of the medieval towns and were constructed when the town granted the right to self-governance. There was the seat of the town government performing its activities through meetings. In the town hall there were kept statute books and the Treasury.
The building of the town hall in Shklov is a two-storey rectangular building. The central part of the town hall was marked by a two-tier octagonal tower. According to the idea of the architect, the tower was completed by a sloping dome with a steeple. A mechanical clock appeared on the tower after the restoration; all residents of the town synchronize watches with it. The rectangular window openings with pilasters give the facade of the building special strictness. There was a staircase leading from the ground floor to the second. That floor served as a place hosting social facilities on the sides of the short hall. Thus, the town hall in Shklov is a bright example of the classical style of architecture.
As mentioned, the town hall was attached to the merchants’ rows presenting a one-story building with cross-shaped barns. The oblong structure had a passage in the center. The stalls looked out on two sides of the merchants’ rows that allowed getting the most out of their premises. So, a relatively small room could seat about 120 stalls. At the time, Empress Catherine II was impressed by the beauty of the Shklov town hall; she even made a record in her diary after visiting the town.
There are data stating that before the war, the town hall was in satisfactory condition and functioned. However, the monument was badly damaged in the years of the Great Patriotic War. Almost everything was affected, ranging from the foundation to the roof. In 1926, it was decided to inscribe the town hall building on the list of monuments of the BSSR. In 1952, the restored building hosted a fire department. Separate rooms were given to a dress-making and tailoring establishment. By decree of the local authorities, the merchants’ rows were demolished as they could not be allegedly included in the list of cultural and historical heritage. The restoration was fully finished in 1999. The building of the historical monument was given to a school and local history museum.
The building of the town hall of Shklov town is considered to be one of the most famous architectural monuments of Belarus as it is even mentioned in the catalog of global landmarks published in the United States.