City Hall Square

Coordinates: 55.888939 21.241836

Object address: Rotušės square, Kretinga, Lithuania

Municipality: Kretinga district

When the construction of the city of Karlstad (Kretinga) was started in the 17th century, a marketplace and the magistrate’s house, also known as the city hall, were designed and constructed in the southern part of the City Hall Square. The square was where the decisions of the magistrate would be announced to the public and where the town crier would present the newest information as well as the punishments for committed crimes.

In the beginning of the 17th century, every citizen was obligated to hear out a certain portion of the speeches given in the street or in the marketplace. Between the 17th and the 18th centuries, the construction of wooden residential buildings was started in the plots of land around the square.
M. Galinskis, a 19th century Polish historian, wrote that Kretinga is a small beautiful town full of brick buildings, an Orthodox church as well as a fire station in the city square. It even had poles with lanterns on them. In the end of the 19th century, an Evangelical Lutheran chapel, called a kirche, was built next to the city square.

After World War I, the reconstruction of the city was only started in the third decade. The buildings along the square were rebuilt based on the old design, i.e. the side façades were facing the square. The idea was to maintain a representative look, so brick buildings had to be finely plastered, the woodwork of wooden buildings had to be even and coated in oil-based paint, and wood-chip roofs had to be painted in red Swedish paint.

The reconstruction of the square was started right before the tenth anniversary of Lithuania’s declaration of independence. A square (sometimes referred to as a garden) was built in the centre. Flowerbeds and the Freedom Monument were situated in the centre of the square. The monument was unveiled and the square was named Public Square in 1931.

The main regional, rural, and city government institutions as well as stores, banks and pharmacies were located around the square. Moreover, it was also the area where the most influential and the richest citizens of Kretinga lived.

During the war, the square was transformed into a cemetery for German soldiers. In the 1950s, the tombstones were moved to the territory of the Kretinga Manor Garden. The Freedom Monument was removed in 1949 and it was not restored until 1990.

In the 1940s and 1950s, all of the rubble was removed from the square and the construction of the new Kretinga city square was begun. The northern part of the square was burnt down in 1941 and was never rebuilt. Thus, the town planted a small decorative garden in its place. A completely new 4-acre square was designed later on. Its initial name was Soviet Square, but it was renamed to City Hall Square in 1990.

The square was renovated for the 750th anniversary of the establishment of Kretinga. The square can now fit 200 cars. The triangular square was constructed and the pathways near the flower garden were widened. A monument to the founder of Kretinga, Jonas Karolis Chodkevičius, can also be found here.

The Kretinga City Hall Square is considered a 17th century urbanistic monument.

Source: Kretingos enciklopedija

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