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The Old Town of Narva

The Old Town of Narva

The capital of Estonia - Tallinn (Old Town) is told to be a city, built in gothic style; Tartu is told to be a town of classicist style (university, buildings of the central part of the town). Up to the World War II, Narva was famous for its universal style where the gothic, baroque and classicism were mixed. Later, when Narva started expanding and its suburbs were actively built, the Old Town began to be called the Old Narva. Its story began with the terrible fire in 1659, after which only three houses and the fortress remained. After this accident, stone buildings were only allowed to be built in the central part of the town. Incomes from the flourishing trade allowed to erect the stone buildings and, at the same time, build them at breakneck speed. Thus, in two decades, the new stone town centre extended for approximately twenty hectares. For Narva of the 17th century, the two-stored plastered buildings with plentifully decorated portals (main entrances) and the majestic weathercocks were typical. Houses' corner towers (bay windows) were one of the characteristic features of Narva architecture. The heart of the Old Narva was at the Town Hall's square. Town Hall, a striking example of the classicism, was the most important building at the square. At the southern side of the square, the vazhnya was situated (Board of Weights and Measures). There were Baroque residential constructions beside it. Moreover, there also was a chemist's shop. The exchange building (1695-1704), situated across the Town Hall, was opposite the vazhnya and the chemist's shop. The house of the burggraf Jurgen Thunder (in the Middle Ages, the town's head with military and court duties) situated in the eastern part of the square, at the corner of the Suur and Ruutli streets, across the Town Hall's building. Narva's Old Town was destroyed because of the Soviet Union's air force's bombing attacks on March 6 and 8, 1944. In summer 1944, when German forces were retreating, they blew up a few churches, Ivangorod's fortress, Krenholm manufactory's production buildings and many houses. The majority of Old Narva buildings' walls remained after the artillery and bombing attacks. First, the roofs and interior structures of the buildings were destroyed. A part of Old Narva was planned to be reconstructed soon after the war, and the whole Old Narva was taken under State's protection in 1947. In 1950, however, Narva town authorities decided to pull down building's ruins, situated in the town centre. As a result, only three buildings were reconstructed - Narva Town Hall and two houses. Until the last moment it was planned to reconstruct Peter the Great's house and the exchange building. After all, its walls were also pulled down. It is frequently asked why Old Narva was not reconstructed. However, there is no direct response. Then, the walls' destruction was grounded on the necessity of obliterating wars' vestiges. It was also said that the vagabondage was settling among the ruins.

Certainly, huge expenses, needed for its restoration were the main reason of the rejection of Old Narva reconstruction. At last, the point of the ideological causes is that the Old Town represented the culture of the West town architecture and, by taking the ruins away, it became possible to built there the Soviet town. Today, blue and yellow Narva flag is hung out in the anniversary of the bombing of Narva on March 6.

The Town Hall

Being built at the end of 60ies of the 17th century, Narva Town Hall was the most representative public-service building in Narva. Swedish king Charles XI gave an order to the town authorities to build the Town Hall. The project of the master George Teuffel from Lubeck formed the basis of the building, the construction of which started in 1688. After three years, at the latest in 1691, the building was finished when a gold-plated forged weathercock in the form of a crane was put at the top of the tower (it was made by master Grabben). Interior furnishing lasted for another four years. In succeeding years, the clock was installed at the attic, building of the stairs in the Town Hall was finished and portal, brought from Stockholm, was set. Grate of the artistic smithery that connected stairs and handrails (at that time it was gold-plated) and the door-bell (metal ring striking against the door used as a door-bell) were finished last. Indoor wall painting beautified the Town Hall in abundance. During the World War II, the Town Hall was severely damaged: the tower, the roof, the flooring were destroyed, the stairs and the figures at the portal got considerable damages. During the renovation works in the Town Hall (1956-1963), the tower was rebuilt, and the building attained the new roof; the facade and the portal were reconstructed, and the grate that connected stairs and handrails was restored. During the reconstruction, festive entrance hall was only kept from the all-indoor decoration where the stair and the ceiling girders, decorated with the painting were restored. Today the Town Hall is a three-stored stone building with a huge socle store. Elevation of the building is divided by eight Tuscan pilasters where there is a high roof with a well-proportioned tower and baroque cupola, crowning it. There is a crane, the symbol of the vigilance, at the top of the tower. The windows lie in the same plane with an outside wall, which is typical for Narva town. The building is beautified by the portal with three figures that are symbols of three ethical principles: equity, wisdom and moderation. Exactly on the basis of these principles, justice in the Town Hall had to be administered. Historical town's emblem was situated among the figures: at the dark blue escutcheon, there were sword, sabre and three shots that are the symbols of importance of the town as a fortress at the border of the East (sabre) and the West (sword). Two fishes were represented between the symbols of the boundary town. According to one of the hypothesis, they represent the fishery, given to the town by its rulers. In the old days, Estonian ponds were renowned for its fair amount of fish. According to the folk rumours, Peter the Great, while ratifying the emblem of the town in 1585, said: "Be silent as fishes are, and thus you will be obedient to the new rule."

After the renovation works in the Town Hall (1960-1963), there resided the Palace of Pioneers in the name of Victor Kingisepp. For the recent years, the Town Hall is abandoned. However, in the distant prospect, it is planned to become a representative building of town counc




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