Sign of the Magdebourg right
In 1499 Minsk received the so called Magdebourg right - the right of an independent city, the inhabitants of which were released from feudal duties, from the court and the authority of voivodes and other state persons. Minsk received the right to create its own organ of government, the magistrate, which was an administrative, executive and judicial body. The magistrate sat in the Town hall, which, thus, was the symbol of independence of the city. In 19 century the times of belarusian independence ended and the building of the town hall was demolished. By the way, there is an autographic signature of Nikolay I under the decision about the demolition of the Minsk town hall. The building of the town hall was destroyed, because its existence reminded people of customs of the past, of the ancient traditions of self-government.
It is restored only in 2004, and restoration was conducted by record rates: In September, 2002 the representatives of city authorities laid the first symbolical stone, and at the beginning of 2004 the Minsk town hall was finished.
The first building of the town hall was constructed in the first half of 16 century in the territory of the Top market on the Cathedral square (the Svoboda square). At the end of 18 century, under the project of the provincial architect Kramer, the building was given the features of classicism. The author of the project completely kept the constructive basis of an old building, having added porticoes with balconies. In this form the present town hall was restored. A complex dome crowns it, on the facade – a clocks and a bell. In former times, units of measure, of weight, of volume, accepted in the city, were stored; the court of the town hall sat there. Since 1785 the town duma began to carry out the most part of functions of the magistrate. The Magdebourg right cancelled in 1795. In the first half of 19 century there were a court, a guardroom, police, archive, musical school and even a theatre.
The internal lay-out of a restored monument is not copied completely; the most valuable elements are kept only. On the first floor, where the magistrate settled earlier, a hall for the meetings and reception of guests of honour is situated. On the ground floor - the museum of Minsk: showrooms and an exposition, telling about the history and sights of the city. In a big exposition hall under a glass dome the model of the historical center of Minsk of the beginning of the nineteenth century will be placed. In the basement of the town hall the elements of a cobblestone road and brickwork are exposed. All these exhibits are collected during the excavations of the historical part of the city.
Now a public garden, adjoining the town hall, is reconstructed: here avenues with Lombardy poplars, as a hundred years ago, are organized, foot paths are arranged, cast-iron lanterns and benches in "retro" style are put. Here, in the public garden, the monument to great fellow-countrymen will be set up: to the artist Valentij Vankovich, the writer Dunin-Martsinkevich, the composer Stanislav Monjushko.