date: 20.04.2024 current local time in Toruń:
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Old City Town Hall (Ratusz Staromiejski)
Located in the centre of the Old City Market Square, the monumental Old City Town Hall is one of the biggest and most magnificent buildings of its kind in Europe. It is a monument to Toruń's glory as the former trade empire of Hansa. It was built under the privilege of the Teutonic Grand Master Conrad von Wallenrode in the late 14th century, i.e. when the medieval Old City of Toruń was at the peak of its prosperity.

Torun, Rynek Staromiejski 1 (1 Old Town Market Square >>)
Interiors sightseeing:
the Town Hall houses the District Museum; opening hours, exhibitions and further details here
Detailed info:
The Old City Hall performed two functions: the ground floor housed merchant halls (the Cloth Hall, the so-called bread benches, City Scales, and the Judical Hall), whereas the first floor was occupied by the municipal authorities (the Council Hall, since the sixteenth century referred to as the Senate Hall, the Tribute Office, the Wet Office, the Chancellery, the Kamlaria Office (the Town Coffers Room), etc).

Initially, from the second half of the thirteenth century, the place had been occupied by a number of separate structures arranged in the form of a similar quadrangle.

Beautifully decorated with typically Gothic ornamentation, the tower is the oldest part of the present-day building. Dating from 1274, it was elevated to its present-day height of 40 metres in 1385. It was modelled on belfries built in Flanders – a combination of tower with market halls, which also served as watchtowers - because Toruń established close trade links with some of the cities in Flanders (mainly with Bruges, Ghent and Ypres) as early as the mid-thirteenth century.
The tower housed archives, armour and valuables, and it also functioned as prison.
In approximately 1430, it was crowned by a pointed helmet – a spire, at the top of which a golden crown was hung – a symbol of Toruń’s sovereignty and royal privileges. It was irretrievably damaged during the Swedish siege in 1703. Thus, it symbolizes the beginning of the end of Toruń’s greatest glory and power.

The years 1603-4, which marked another period of prosperity for the city, saw the reconstruction of the Old City Town Hall under an outstanding Flemish architect, Anton van Obberghen. The Gothic forms were overlaid with the new, Mannerist elements. Thus, while retaining the Gothic pointed blind windows on the facades, an additional storey was added to the building, as were the Mannerist sandstone corner turrets and beautiful gables on the axes of each façade (the gables were destroyed in 1703). Inside, the halls were also redecorated and enriched. Exquisite interiors, decorated by superb artists (to a considerable extent also destroyed in 1703), were testimony to Toruń’s affluence and power.

In the Grand Hall, in 1645, the famous Colloquium Charitativum was held, as were three sessions of the Polish Sejm (Diet; in 1519/20, 1576, and 1626). The Old City Hall was also the place for political negotiations and meetings involving the monarchs.
Click on the pictures to read the description (Windows Internet Explorer only):
Old City Town Hall, ground floor: Gothic Cloth Hall

Old City Town Hall, first floor: Baroque portal to the Senate Hall
Old City Town Hall, first floor: Renaissance portal to the Royal Hall
Old City Town Hall, first floor: The Grand Hall
Click on the pictures to read the description (Windows Internet Explorer only)
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