Narva city

Old town: Expansion and Tragedy

The XVII century - the time of expanding commerce in Narva - was also the golden age of civil architecture in the town. Until then, Narva was constructed mainly of wood, and many times had almost entirely perished in fires. After a disastrous fire in 1659, the town had been built anew within a short period (circa 30-40 years). After that time, only construction in stone was allowed, and had to proceed under severe architectural supervision. Masters of construction invited from Germany, Holland, and Sweden took part in designing new town structures. The desire of the Swedish government to turn Narva into an immaculate Swedish town and also an administrative center of the vast Ingermanland Province, had attached a specific scope to the construction. In the mid-century, some plans even existed to convert Narva into the second capital of Sweden, thereby serving as a new residence for the Royal family.

These plans were never implemented. However, as a result they did influence the unique architectural ensemble of the historic center of Narva. Architecture of the so-called Old Town combined local traditions of construction with elements typical of the Baroque style encountered in architecture of many North- European countries. Merging of local elements and those introduced from outside yielded a specific architectural style known as "Narva Baroque." Tiled roofs, carved stone portals, open-worked metal-detail fences and gratings, weathervanes and padlocks gave the town an air of solemnity and festivity. Developing Narva as an industrial center in the XIX to first half of the XX century had not affected the town's historic region. Until World War II, the Old Town of Narva underwent practically no changes, having been kept in the form that was established in the second part of the XVII century.

Tragedy came in March - July of 1944. The Old Town shared the fate of many places like Warsaw and Dresden. Narva was destroyed as a result of raids by Soviet aircraft and bombardments, as well as by explosions and fires set by retreating German troops. Reconstruction, partial at least, of the architectural appearance of the historic center is one of the most important targets set before present-day Narva.

Added 14.07.2008, 13:47
Changed 14.07.2008, 14:46

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