Kuressaare Town Hall celebrates 350th anniversary

Kuressaare Town Hall.
Kuressaare Town Hall. Source: ERR

The Kuressaare Town Hall, the second oldest in Estonia after its counterpart in the capital, recently celebrated its 350th birthday. It took 17 years to construct the town hall building and it was finished in 1670.

Despite its long history, the building has managed to keep secrets from today's city officials, "Aktuaalne kaamera" evening news reported on Saturday.

The town hall's 350 years of history were summed up in a short video installation that details the better and worse days of the fifth oldest building in Kuressaare.

The town hall has been largely rebuilt over the centuries, while its walls are without a doubt 350 years of age and its doors have seen around 300 years.

Mistress of the Kuressaare Town Council Gallery (Raegalerii) Lii Pihl said that the building has had other interesting functions in the past and some of its rooms have been used as detention cells. "Because the Town Council also had judicial duties back in the day, they were likely used to detain those who would be judged on the upper floors. The building has even served as a sobering-up station, although that came later," Pihl said.

In the middle of the Town Hall's cellar is a walled-in space with no door. Lii Pihl speculated that it might be empty or filled with dirt.

A message meant for councilmen from centuries ago is carved above the doors of the Kuressaare Town Hall. "He will always perform his duty for the benefit of the people by consulting the citizenry."

To what extent does the current local authority in Saaremaa observe this principle 350 years later?

Chairman of the Saaremaa Municipality Council Tiiu Aro said she hopes it is all the authority proceeds from. "Unfortunately, times have changed and brought new interest groups, meaning that it is very likely impossible to live up to the motto in full," Aro said.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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