Old Town Hall, Olsztyn
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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An element of an old town complex, an example of late Gothic municipal architecture.

History

The preserved Town Hall building was erected in the late 15th/early 16th century in the late Gothic style (or a 14th century castle associated with the chartered town was converted). During the latter part of the 18th century, it was slightly expanded to the west (the rectangle of the building plan was extended), the layout of openings in the south façade was altered, an octagonal turret was erected on the roof, and the building was probably plastered. In 1829, the building became the seat of the Royal District and Municipal Court; it was used again by the town office and council in 1880-1916 (until they moved to a new town hall building). In 1849-1881, a two-storey wing was added, attached to the north wall, plastered façades of the town hall were provided with historicised decoration, with rustication on the ground floor, cornice between storeys and gables above the first-floor windows. The main entrance in the new portal was situated in the south wall axis. In 1927-1928, the north wing was added, and previous architectural details were removed from the façade, leaving plain plastered wall surfaces. The new building which incorporates the Gothic town hall, was designed on a regular plan with an inner courtyard enclosed by three wings and a curtain arcaded gallery along the fourth (east) side. In 1942, the roof and the turret burnt down. In 1945, the building was burned during the entry of Soviet troops into the city. Since 1952, the building has housed the Voivodeship Public Library. In the 1960s, it was decorated with sgraffito (e.g. under the south wing eaves and on the inner walls of the courtyard) and sundials on the east and south façades of the Town Hall. In 2000, the turret on the roof was reconstructed. In 2002, during library repair work, Gothic brick façades of the Town Hall were discovered. Architectural and archaeological surveys conducted made it possible to determine the chronology of the town hall construction process and to restore late Gothic architectural features.

Description

The regular quadrilateral building in the middle of the market square was erected in several stages. The oldest part is the south wing, the Gothic town hall. It is two-storey structure on a rectangular plan, forming a plain, compact and regular cuboid covered with a gable roof, with triangular gables. The north wing of the block features an identical plan and shape; on the west side, it is linked to a five-axial wing of equal height, on the east side - to a lower, open arcaded gallery. Brick town hall, east, south and west façades with an exposed face brick pattern; other façades and the turret plastered; ceramic-tiled roofs. Sitting on the roof ridge is an octagonal turret with a sheet-metal clad bulbous cupola, topped with a flag bearing the date 2000. East façade of the town hall, originally the entrance façade, three-axial, designed in a decorative, stately manner. Rectangular door in the axis, framed by a portal in which three engaged side columns of brick mouldings is enclosed above the opening by a segmental arch with a double ogee arch above it; ceramic mouldings also form the lintel line. On the sides, there are openings in panels topped with a profiled basket-handle arch, above which an ogee arch is additionally suspended. The openings are fitted with plank leaves of shutters and doors. On the first floor of the entrance façade, the wall is divided by a row of tall and narrow blind windows topped with a segmental arch, arranged in clusters of two and three; at the edge, there is a wider window in an identical panel. Door opening in the centre of the south façade, framed by a historicist portal with Corinthian pilasters and symmetrically arranged rectangular windows on the sides. Second storey articulated in the same way as the façade by blind windows and windows in panels. Other façades of the mid-market square block feature regular axes represented by rectangular windows. In the west wing, windows additionally framed in panels two storeys high topped with a round arch; in the east gallery, there corresponding arcade arches supported by pillars. Plastered blind windows, niches and panels under decorative late Gothic arches in town hall façades. Historicist wooden windows and doors, contemporary crown glass glazing in the first-floor windows. Three mosaic sundials made of large, irregular pieces of coloured glazed ceramic. Roofed courtyard.

Public utility building - seat of the Voivodeship Public Library in Olsztyn, accessible to the general public.

Compiled by Joanna Piotrowska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Olsztyn, 13-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • J. Sikorski, Stary ratusz w Olsztynie na tle dziejów miasta, Olsztyn 1999.
  • W. Chodkowska, D. Chodkowski, Stary ratusz w Olsztynie - czy ocalimy piękno?, „Warmińsko-Mazurski Biuletyn Konserwatorski” V, 2003, s. 81-95.
  • Rzempołuch, Architektura i urbanistyka Olsztyna 1353-1953. Od założenia miasta po odbudowę ze zniszczeń wojennych, Olsztyn 2005, s. 27-29.
  • Ch. Herrmann, Mittelalterliche Architektur im Preussenland. Untersuchungen zur Frage der Kunstlandschaft und -geographie, Petersberg 2007, s. 327-328.
  • R. Bętkowski, Olsztyn jakiego nie znacie, Olsztyn 2010, s.51.
  • J. Sikorski, Jak feniks z popiołów, czyli olsztyńskie odkrycie gotyckiego ratusza, 2013, tekst dostępny online na stronie www.jerzysikorski.pl/baza-artykulow (odczyt z 8 września 2014)

General information

  • Type: town hall
  • Chronology: 1490-1510
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Stare Miasto 33, Olsztyn
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district Olsztyn, commune Olsztyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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