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Wednesday, 22 November 2017
VisitBialystok.com - All about Białystok


Rynek Kościuszki
The whole town square is centred around the Townhall, erected with hetman's money. The first part was built in 1755 - 1761, which was the central part of the construction. Then it was topped with a magnificent tower and four corner alcoves were added, adjacent to the main part by means of a series of arcades, which in turn served as a place for stalls for the local merchants. The townhall, therefore, served mainly for the purpose of a shopping centre as it was not used for meetings of the town council. The only premises used by the town were the selected courtroom and prison, called the "turma". In the first years of the 19th century, there were 48 shopping stalls which were the inheritable property of the shopkeepers - mainly Jews. Due to the fact that a market surrounded the townhall, Jan Klemens Branicki ordered for a town weights to be built there. It was a groundfloor building with arcades where the models of measures of length and volume, certified by the councillors, were kept. A sculpture personifying justice was located by the town weights. The other sculpture, which is no longer there, presented St Florian and was located by the fountain.

The tower of the townhall dominated the town skyline. In the 19th century a fire alarm post was placed on the tower, destroying its elaborate architecture. Together with all the adjacent constructions, the townhall served the purpose of a market until 1940. In the period between the two world wars, it was co-owned by over 100 shopkeepers. Upon invading Białystok, the Soviets destroyed the historical building, planning to place a monument of Stalin in its place. Reconstruction of the townhall was begun in 1954 and finished within 4 years. The new building differed significantly from the original. The interior was changed, the alcoves were connected with the main building and the town weights was not reconstructed. The role of the townhall also changed - it no longer served the purpose of a market place but instead became the seat of the regional museum.

Above the eastern part of Rynek Kościuszki emerges the cathedral complex of the Assumption of the Holy Mary, composed of the neogothic cathedral, the small late renaissance parish church which is the oldest brick building in Białystok and a baroque presbytery built in the years 1617 - 1626 in place of the previous wooden church founded by the then owner of Białystok, Piotr Wiesiołowski Junior. In the 19th century, the temple became too small and so a plea was made to the tsarist authorities to give their consent to the construction of a new church. After forty years of waiting, such consent was finally given but only for the addition of an annex. And so the construction works were begun in 1900 according to the design of the architect Józef Pius Dziekoński.

In six years the "annex" was completed, several times bigger than the church itself. It is now a cathedral basilica of the archbishop Białystok ordinary. A wide staircase leads to the interior of the tri-nave church. In front of the entrance stand the statues of St Peter and Paul and one of Pope John Paul II. The main oak altar created in 1915 by Wincenty Bogatczyk, presents a painting of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. There are two altars devoted to Holy Mary in the transept: one to the Lady of Częstochowa and the other to the Lady of Ostra Brama. There is also an altar of St Anthony.

Among the three rows of houses of Rynek Kościuszki, the one located on the western side is especially attractive to the eye, with the colourful facades of the brownstones rebuilt after the war, by which local and visiting painters present their works and where their favourite gallery and cafe, the "Marszand", is located, next to the "Akcent" bookstore and the antique store of "Desa". The facade elevations of the brownstones have been decorated with sgraffito ornaments. Apart from floral elements, images of animals and figurines of muses and their attributes, we see the portraits of people who have been important to the region: father Krzysztof Kluk - the biologist from Ciechanowiec, the author of the "Plant Dictionary"; duchess Anna of Siemiatycze - the well known reformer of the Enlightenment period; Adrian Krzyżanowski - a mathematician, physicist and historian born in Dąbrowa Białostoocka; Krzysztof Lach Szyrma - a man of words and political sciences from the area of Olecko; Antoni Waga - an entomologist from Grabów.


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