Narva is a city with a long history. It has been ruled by the Danes, Germans, Russians, Swedes, and Estonians. If you are coming to Narva Town Hall, you should know that it is not just a building. King Charles XI of Sweden gave the order to build the Town Hall and it was completed according to the design of Georg Teuffel, the builder from the Lübeck. The construction of the Town Hall began in 1668 and was completed in 1671 when a gol-plated, forged weathervane in the shape of a crane by the master Grabben was placed at the top of the Town Hall tower.
In addition to the Town Hall building, the architectural ensemble of Narva Town Hall Square also included a stock exchange building, a town pharmacy, and dwellings for wealthy Swedish citizens. Unfortunately, Narva suffered great losses during World War II, in March 1944, when Soviet forces bombed Narva and destroyed almost the entire Old Town. The Swedish grandeur of the city was wiped off the face of the earth. Narva has burned down repeatedly over the years, but almost every time the city was rebuilt – until the Soviet occupation, when the communist regime did not. The people who returned to the city after the hostilities of World War II found only ruins of the former Baroque pearl of the Baltic Sea. Thus, to this day, all that remains of the entire Town Hall Square complex is the Town Hall itself.
Starting from 10th of August something completely unprecedented is opened in Narva Town Hall. The exhibition ‘The New Life of Old Narva’ brings to life the city’s former glory with virtual reality. Here you can try on virtual reality glasses and go time travelling. Suddenly you’ll find yourself in the 17th-century Narva Town Hall Square, and you can walk along the streets of Old Narva. Come and see what Narva looked like when it was at the height of its glory!
In addition, you can use tablets and view photos and 3D-model of Old Narva and get acquainted with the pre-war life of the city. The walls have two extra-large panels with tactile models. One of them has a 3D-printed model of Old Narva, which is based on two models in the possession of Narva Museum – Fedor Shantsyn’s paper model and a historically accurate model of Narva by J. Kaljund and O. Kivisalu kept at Narva Castle. The second has sections of the facades of Old Narva’s marketplaces.
The journey through time also tells the extraordinary life stories of locals. Perhaps it is even more exciting to experience Narva through someone else’s eyes? For example, do you know who the patrons of Narva – the Lavretsovs – were? Why is there a called Sergei Lavretsov Street in the Old Town of Narva?
Sergei Lavretsov conceptualised and financed the construction of the Narva maternity hospital. In 1869, Sergei married Glafira, who instilled in him a love for the arts. Together they collected works from Russia and Western Europe, artists’ studios, or art dealers, and supported Estonian artists. Once they had collected a significant number of works, they decided to open their home once a week to all visitors. After Glafira’s death in 1913, a museum opened in their former home and became one of the leading and most exciting provincial museums in the then Russian Empire. Although the building on Rüütli Street was destroyed during World War II and many works were either destroyed or lost, a large part of the art collection that belonged to the museum before the war was saved. Today, many works are housed in the Narva Museum Art Gallery. Visit Narva Museum and find out which works decorated the Lavretsov family home more than a hundred years ago.
The stories of the Lavretsovs and many other locals will help you to discover completely new sides of Narva, experience history through the eyes of the inhabitants of the time, solve exciting tasks, and also visit places that still exist in Narva. Come with your family or schoolmates! Narva Town Hall is located at Raekoja plats 1, Narva and is opened every day! The opening times of the exhibition ‘The New Life of Old Narva’ can be seen following the link.
The virtual Old Narva exposition was created as part of ’The New Life of Old Narva’ project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency and funded as part of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.