In Minsk, the Town Hall attracts many looks. And that’s for sure, the City Hall of Minsk is very beautiful. But did you know it’s rebuilt and not even 20 years old?
The City Hall is a great milestone of when Minsk acquired its Magdeburg rights in 1499 and could be classed as a real city. In the old days, a City hall may have a court, a magistrate, an archive, a guardhouse, the standards of weights and the special symbols of the city. In the basement, there could be prison cells. Also, events in the city could be held in or outside the City Hall. It was the center for the cultural life in Minsk.
The first City Hall on this spot was a wooden building and later on a stone building (in 1582). The citizens of Minsk was very proud of their city hall that stood for freedom, pride, and resistance. During the years, the solid stone building withstood both great fires and wars.
At the end of the 18th century, the building was restored to look better than any time and also got its Classicism style together with the rest of the area. The biggest addition was the 4 iconic columns on each side. The tower got crowned and many decorative elements were added. Now it really looked like the most important building of Minsk.
Minsk becoming a part of the Russian Empire
Belarus belonged to the Russian Empire from the year 1795 to 1918. When Nicholas I of Russia was in charge of the empire, he wasn’t satisfied with things like freedom and independence the City Hall symbolized. In 1857 he made the final decision to destroy the city hall. The City Hall was destroyed with explosives and the material was used to roads. Some decorations from the building ended up on other buildings in the city.
The Russian Empire falls and the Soviet Union falls. Now, the archeological interest of the site increases. Excavations are made and they find the remains of the foundation of the former City Hall.
After a lot of scientific work in the surrounding area and also help from the city archive in Vilnius and Warszawa, the building could be restored between 2002-2004. Now it has the former glory again. And listen carefully. Every hour, the chimes play the melody of I. Luchenok, “The song about Minsk”.
Since the year 2012, also the inner building can be visited for a small amount. Don’t miss this landmark of Minsk when you passing by – Very close to the Freedom Square.