Old Town Hall in Wrocław

Data utworzenia: 2022-07-29

The tenement house called Old Town Hall is located in the eastern part of Rynek. The city council held their meetings there and used the rooms at Rynek 30.

King Augustus II the Strong used to reside there during is travels between Dresden and Warsaw. That is why it has the name Pod Polskim Królem and Pod Królem Augustem (Under the Polish King).

The tenement house, as many in Rynek, was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century and a new building was built in its place. After World War II the tenement house was rebuilt but it looks different than the original from the 18th century, when it was in baroque style.

Today in Old Town Hall (Stary Ratusz) there is the City Museum of Wrocław.

The description from the Museum’s website:

Old Town Hall is a unique Gothic building in European architecture. It has 2 storeys, 3 parts with a rectangular building of the councils, which is attached to the northern wall and a square tower. Located in the city centre, it was being built for about 250 years (13 - 16th century). It used to serve as the seat of the city authorities and the court.

The oldest part of the Town Hall was built ca. 1299 (according to the sources). This part is called consistorium (Latin: place of gatherings) and now belongs to the building. The consistorium has two parts: the underground hall covered with the ceiling and the Western tower. After buying the rights of the voyt, the meaning of the Council was much bigger. The growing number of the Council members demanded a new building. In the years 1328-1333, near the consistorium a new, smaller building was built - praetorium (Latin: the seat of the leaders). The building is the northern part of the Town Hall, near the square with the whipping post.

In the years 1343-1357 new parts were built: the Courtroom on the ground floor and the Royal Chamber on the first floor, which served as a chapel. A new floor was built over the consistorium and praetorium. Both buildings had the same roof, the cellar was covered with a ceiling and the tower was raised. Around 1368 a clock was started and the bell has remained until today. The eastern entrance was adorned with a portal. The final look of the Town Hall was shaped by the great renovation in the years 1470-1480, when the building was enlarged almost by a half by attaching new rooms in the southern part and it got a more representative character.  The new southern part was adorned by three avant-corps with richly ornamented bay windows. The middle and northern part was covered by the single, high roof which was richly adorned with pinnacles. The southern part and north-eastern attachment were covered with separate, lower roofs, also adorned with pinnacles. In 1510 the façade of the Town Hall was plastered and covered with decorative painting. A little later, Renaissance portals were installed in the Courtroom and the Council’s Chamber. On 18 October 1536 a new, five-element crest of Wrocław (assigned to the city in 1530) was installed on the tower.

In 1548 the north-eastern attachment was extended. In its newest part, on the ground floor the Council’s office was arranged and on the first floor the jury’s office with a bay window on the yard. In 1559 the Town Hall’s tower was heightened and covered with a Renaissance tent roof. In 1580 the eastern clock was started. In 1615 the southern part of the ground floor was separated into several smaller rooms.  Since 1808 the interior was deteriorating. The old building was of no use for the modern administration and soon the council moved into the newly built New Town Hall. The façades were also deteriorating.  Only in the end of the 19th century first conservation works were done e.g. the pinnacles were renovated, the western façade was adorned with pseudo-Gothic tops. Inside, a new, big staircase was built. In the 30s of the 20th century there was another renovation. The Great Hall was again divided into three naves, new floors were laid, the eastern façade was plastered and from the southern part new stairs to the middle avant-crops were built. Also, the commercial stalls surrounding the Town Hall were taken away. During the siege of Wrocław in 1945 Town Hall was severely damaged. It was restored to its previous glory by renovations and conservation.

Since the very beginning the Town Hall has witnessed many important historical events and has been a representative building where the authorities invited their honourable guests. This tradition is still alive. The most important world leaders, monarchs, clergy and artists have been invited into the Town Hall. In the cellar of the building there is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe - the legendary Piwnica Świdnicka.


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