The Town Hall in Slonim

Slonim

Town halls

Historically, in the territory of the Republic of Belarus there are a lot of small towns with very rich history. It was almost always so that these towns were granted the Magdeburg right. If you don't know what it is, it is the recognition of the independence of the town in the middle ages. Receiving the Magdeburg rights town residents were exempted fr om all feudal taxes and could regulate life and relations within the town. The distinctive feature of towns that had got this right was its flag and coat of arms. One of the most important characteristics of self-government in medieval towns was the town hall which hosted meetings of local authorities and other town organizations, up to the town Treasury.

One of the towns that were granted the Magdeburg right is the town Slonim of the Grodno region which is located on the site where the Shara and the Issa rivers meet. Slonim is one of the oldest towns in our country, as according to archaeological data, the first fortified settlement in the territory of modern town dates back to 1036. The first written mention of Minsk refers to 1252 and found in the Ipatiev Chronicle, where the city is described as Uslonim or Vslonim that can be translated from Old Slavonic as "fortification". The recognition of the independence of the town Slonim was given in 1531 by the prince of the Great Duchy of Lithuania Sigismund I the Old. The town was granted its coat of arms in 1591 by Prince Sigismund III Vasa. It presents an image of a golden lion sitting on its hind legs, with a silver arrow which has two crossbars which are located against the blue background of heraldic shield. Do you know that "the lion" is considered to be a family coat of arms of the Sapiehas dynasty since the XV century? At the time of granting of the town with its coat of arms the head of town was Lev Sapieha, chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Of course, this indicated that the town was in possession of the Sapiehas.

We know from historical sources that the first town hall was built in the XVII century and made of wood, like most buildings at the time. In the town hall, except for the magistracy, there were also a court room and a town archive. Certainly, around the town hall appeared a market square with merchants’ rows wh ere numerous fairs were held. In the XVIII century the town hall was rebuilt. The building was made of stone; it was rectangular and stood out for nothing from other ordinary structures of the town. The building is two-storey that is not very high. There are also outbuildings forming a single closed courtyard.

Today the town hall of Slonim is located at the intersection of Sovetskaya and Pervomaiskaya streets. Despite the various historical events, especially numerous wars and uprisings, the facade of the XVIII century has survived that allows us to estimate the original exterior of the building. Nearby there is a boulevard that appeared on the site of the former market square. Today the building of the former town hall hosts the town library.

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