Tartu Town Hall

The Tartu Town Hall building is the main landmark of Town Hall Square in the Estonian city of Tartu. Once, it was the site of the main city market, but today the area has taken on a different, more attractive appearance, becoming one of the tourist magnets. Incidentally, the current City Hall building is the third on this site, constructed in 1786.

History of Tartu’s City Hall

Since the first Tartu City Hall building was heavily damaged during medieval wars, from 1642 the city chancellery occupied premises in a pharmacy located nearby. In 1693, during Swedish rule in Estonia, a new City Hall building was constructed. However, during the Northern War, it was destroyed along with the neighboring pharmacy.

Construction of the current Town Hall began after a massive fire in 1775, which destroyed a large number of surrounding buildings. The architect was Johann Walter, a native of Rostock, Germany. The cornerstone was laid in 1782, and by 1786 the City Hall was ready, although interior finishing continued for another three years.

The Tartu Town Hall building has always been multifunctional. In the 18th century, the ground floor housed a prison and a shelter for the poor. Today, it hosts a tourist information center. Since 1922, a pharmacy has operated in the right wing of the City Hall.

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Interesting Facts

Eighteen bells manufactured in Karlsruhe, Germany, are installed on the tower of Tartu’s Town Hall. Their chimes can be heard daily at 12, 18, and 21 hours. A fountain in front of the building features the sculptural composition “Kissing Students,” recognized as one of the city’s iconic symbols.

Location on the Map

Other Places of Interest