Town hall, Lwówek Śląski
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Having attained its current form in several stages, the town hall still bears the hallmarks of both the Gothic and the Renaissance style - a consequence of the 16th-century redesign carried out by Wendel Roskopf. The town hall - which was later extended in the early modernist style under the direction of Hans Poelzig in the early 20th century, remains an exceptional example of quality Renaissance architecture of the burgher class while at the same time also showcasing the abilities of an eminent architect from the first half of the 20th century.

History

The first mentions of the local town hall in written sources date back to 1341; the building is believed to have attained its current length somewhere around the year 1480, while the tower was most likely added in 1430 or thereabouts. Alteration works were performed in the years 1500-03 and 1522-24, most likely following a devastating fire of 1518, with the design being produced by Wendel Roskopf and executed by master brickmasons Hans Richter and Paul Schneider from Lubań as well as Thomas and Hans Lindener. A further redesign took place in the years 1546-47. The roof and the tower cupola are known to have undergone renovation works in 1674, 1690, 1740, 1753 and 1770. The building was also modernised in the years 1746-48 and in the second quarter of the 19th century. Between 1903 and 1905, extension and alteration works were performed, based on the design created by Hans Poelzig, with the participation of Ignatius Taschner; in addition, the students and lecturers of the Wrocław Academy of Arts and Crafts (Max Wislicenus, Hans Rossmann and Wanda Bibrowicz) also became involved in the process of designing the interior fixtures and fittings, acting under the direction of Theodor van Gosen. Subsequent renovation works followed in years 1955-58, 1991-92 as well as in the early 21st century.

Description

The building is located in the town centre, west of the cluster of buildings situated in the middle of the market square. It is a two-storey structure with an additional two-storey converted attic space, made of brick and stone and designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, with the longer axis of the building running from east to west. The silhouette of the town hall can be broken down into several constituent parts, with the varied shapes of the northern section and the semi-circular staircase avant-corps near the eastern corner being one of the most distinctive features. The entire structure is covered with gable roofs, each of them featuring two rows of dormers. A tall tower rises in the west, its lower, square section being topped with a gallery and surmounted by a cylindrical middle section which in turn gives way to an octagonal top storey crowned with a cupola with a roof lantern. The façades are covered with plaster and feature a profusion of lavishly designed stonework decorations. The southern walls of the town hall are reinforced with buttresses. The tower is lined with regular sandstone ashlar blocks with Gothic detailing, including a stone crest of the former merchants’ house in the form of a coat of arms supported by a pair of squires. The windows - both single and paired - come in various shapes and sizes; the windows on the southern side being relatively large. Many windows are set in decorative, pilastered stone surrounds adorned with sculpted masks and foliate motifs. The windows on the first-floor level are adorned with surrounds surmounted by triangular or segmental window headers, separated by the projecting avant-corps. Figural motifs imbued with symbolic and allegorical meaning are found near the entrance to the vestibule area. The western façade features two gables, partially obscured by the tower, with an external flight of steps leading to first-floor hallway, above which rises a 15th-century stepped gable partitioned with slender pinnacles and cornices adorned with zoomorphic reliefs. A part of the northern façade follows a three-storey layout with a Renaissance Revival gable. The rest of the northern façade, designed in 1905, is preceded by a ground floor arcade which continues alongside the staircase avant-corps. Parts of the first-floor walls are clad with roof tiles. A figure of a lion from the Lubań Gate can be seen in the north-western corner. The eastern façade features a stepped gable partitioned with bar tracery and cornices, with the ground floor windows similarly disposed as those in the southern façade. The ground-floor level interiors follow a three-bay layout with a narrow vestibule in the middle (located on the spot where a passage between the shopping stalls had once been), featuring a vaulted ceiling of the barrel and cross-ribbed type. The southern suite of rooms contains four chambers: the western room (near the tower) has a flat ceiling, while the three other rooms (including the Patrician Hall) feature lierne vaults with curvilinear ribs, supported by engaged pillars standing alongside the wall; in the former vestibule, the vaulted ceiling is supported by an octagonal pillar positioned in the centre of the room. The northern suite of rooms, added in 1905, initially featured a market hall in the middle, its flat ceiling supported by a pair of pillars; the market hall is flanked by two rectangular annexes and a grand staircase, its ground floor section being supported by the semi-circular avant-corps positioned next to the eastern annex. The Hall of the Bench is located in the south-western section of the building, on the second storey. Featuring a lierne vault (1522-24), the Hall is also notable for its painted decorations and inscriptions dating back to the mid-16th century. The Wedding Hall (formerly serving as the mayor’s study) can be found in the north-eastern corner of the building, featuring numerous original fixtures and fittings as well as a profusion of lavish decorations incorporating zoomorphic, fantasy and matrimonial themes (1905). The former archive room, with its cross-ribbed vault featuring a keystone shaped as the head of Christ, is located on the second storey of the tower. Stone epitaph plaques relocated from the Franciscan church are embedded in the walls of the vestibule, the former market hall and the staircase; among them there is a tomb chest lid of Henry I, the prince of Jawor, and his wife Agnes (ca. 1350).

The building may be visited during the opening hours of the Municipal Office.

compiled by Piotr Roczek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 12-06-2015.

Bibliography

  • Słownik Geografii Turystycznej Sudetów. Vol. 2 Pogórze Izerskie, Vol. I, M. Staff (ed.), Wrocław 2003, pp. 451-453, 465-466
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 535-537.

General information

  • Type: town hall
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Lwówek Śląski
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district lwówecki, commune Lwówek Śląski - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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