Ratusz w Stargardzie
Zabudowa przyrynkowa. Fot. StasiÓ Stachów, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stargard Town Hall – a Gothic gem of Western Pomerania

The Stargard Town Hall is one of the most valuable surviving Gothic monuments in Pomerania. Its creator decorated it with an impressive gable, which is more than half the height of the building. Throughout its history, the building has been rebuilt and reconstructed – it is its great value that has made it last to this day and is the pride of the city.

The first building erected on the site of the current town hall was a hall called the Merchants’ House (1250-1280). It was a single-storey, brick building, the size of which corresponded to the outline of today’s walls. Over time, meetings of the town’s jurors began to be held there. At the end of the 14th century, the Merchant’s House was completely rebuilt, becoming the seat of the municipal authorities and the merchant patriciate.

The Old Town Square with the Town Hall at the beginning of the 20th century. Source: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Ratusz w Stargardzie

The rebuilt town hall continued to house the market hall and the punishment room on the ground floor and the mayor’s office, the chancellery, the councillors’ meeting room, the courtroom and the treasury on the first floor. The cellars were used as warehouses for visiting merchants. During the festive season, the ground floor hall was a place of entertainment for the burghers. The reconstruction resulted in a single-storey building with stepped gables decorated with blendes and with pointed windows. The front facade was formed by a gable on the west side. The building was covered by a gable roof with rows of windows illuminating the usable attic.

Stargard Town Hall in 1940 and today. Source: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg and Szczecinolog, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A great fire in 1540 destroyed more than 100 buildings throughout the city, including the town hall. Its reconstruction did not take place until 29 years later. During the reconstruction, rich masquerade decoration of the gables was introduced in the spirit of late Gothic, and the shape and size of the windows were changed. The new design of the town hall must have been appreciated by the townspeople, as two other town houses with similar gable decorations were soon built. The town hall building was again destroyed during the Swedish wars, when the priceless municipal archive was burnt down during the town fire. The building was rebuilt in 1636. During this work, the gable of its rear elevation was given an early Baroque form.

The Old Town Square with the Town Hall, 1940s and present day. Source: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg and Małgorzata Jakubowska, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the late 19th century, the building was regilded. During the Second World War, Stargard was struck by another tragic fire. This time the town hall burned down along with the entire Old Town. Losses were estimated at 75 per cent at the time. The fire consumed the roof and interiors, and both priceless gables collapsed. Reconstruction of the Gothic monument began with the protection of the ruins, and the entire work lasted from 1948 to 1961. Its historical value was probably the decisive factor in the decision to raise it from the ruins. Directly adjacent to the southern façade is the reconstructed building of the former guardhouse from the 18th century (now housing the museum) and two Baroque town houses. The rest of the town was much less fortunate. Today, Stargard’s Old Town is mostly blocks of flats and post-modern, moderately successful creations.

Ruins of the town hall and the guardhouse, post-war years and the year 2000. Source: Stargard Museum of Archaeology and History and Mariusz Brzeziński/photopolska.eu

The ruined Stargard town hall in 1947 and a contemporary view. Source: Wojciech Szuba/photopolska.eu and Google Maps

The town hall building was reconstructed on the basis of drawings and photographs, restoring the decoration from the end of the 19th century. The entrance on the east side was removed, the shape of the windows was changed, the whole building was plastered and the interiors were adapted to the administrative needs of the city authorities. Today, in addition to being the seat of the Town Council and the Wedding Hall, the monument houses the Stargard Friends Society and the Stargard Troop Headquarters.

The Old Town Square from a bird’s eye view before the war and in 2023. Source: Stargard Nieznany i Kapitel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In June 2000, a sixty-kilogram clock was installed on the front gable. It chimes full and half hours. The clock is synchronised by an atomic standard located in Frankfurt am Main. Every day at 12 noon, a bugle call is played from the town hall by Waldemar Cieślak.

Source: medievalheritage.eu, pomeranica.pl

Read also: Architecture in Poland | Curiosities | History | City | Monument | whiteMAD on Instagram

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