The City Hall

Coordinates: 55.888750 21.241892

Object address: Rathaus square, Kretinga, Lithuania

Municipality: Kretinga district

The central city square was built in the beginning of the 17th century, when the city of Kretinga was still shaping. It was the primary location of various citizen gatherings, marketplaces and flea markets, where people traded goods. In 1609, Jonas Karolis Chodkevičius published the Karlstad (Kretinga) Establishment Privilege, which declared that the new City Hall is to be built from the “mutual funds of citizens of the city” in the Market Square. It is believed that it could have been built at the same time as the monastery, i.e. in 1610. In 1771, the owner of the manor, bishop I. J. Masalskis, has ordered the magistrate to take care of the City Hall.

The City Hall was a brick two floor building. The roof was covered in roof tiles and a Renaissance-style tower covered in tin was erected in the middle of the roof framework. There were three rooms on the first floor: a large room, which served as the storage room, a prison cell, and another room, which was full of machines that calculated weight, length, and volume. One of the rooms on the second floor was where the magistrate held meetings and the other room served as a study room for the kids of the city.

There used to be a bell in the tower, which served several functions: it announced the time, invited the citizens to the marketplace, court proceedings or magistrate meetings, and informed them of any fires or other disasters.

The most important events took place in the City Hall and in the square nearby. Travelling merchants would store their goods and would settle trade deals. The marketplace was allowed to use the measuring machinery to calculate the weight, length or volume of any goods that raised questions regarding measurements. The City Hall was where the citizens elected new mayors or other officials within the magistrate, participated in state and court proceedings, paid taxes as well as settled agreements.

The Magistrate’s Book was kept in the City Hall. All complaints and lawsuits were registered in it. The magistrate also held meetings here. When any documents were approved, town criers would go out into the marketplace and would inform the townsfolk. Four uniformed guardsmen under the command of the sergeant major guarded the city hall and kept the peace during the days when the marketplace was in town and when the court was in session.

In 1795, when Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Empire, Karlstad lost its municipal (Magdeburg) rights and the city hall became unnecessary. At the end of the 18th century, the Evangelical Lutheran community was renting the premises of the city hall for some time.

The old abandoned city hall building was falling apart, so it was decided to sell it in 1845 to be demolished. In 1875, the customs office financed the construction of an Orthodox church in place of the demolished city hall. In 1925, the church was demolished and the Freedom Monument was built in its place. After World War II, Russian soldiers were buried here. Later, the graves were moved to another location and a square was rebuilt here once again.

Source: Kretingos enciklopedija

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