A European city without a city hall feels like a person who hasn’t received even secondary education. This house is the heart of Chernovtsy. Here orders are issued and important guests are welcomed. Earlier dangerous criminals heard their sentences here. This very building is the demonstration of the status of a city and a witness of its history. We’re talking about the City Hall.
Among tens of city halls that survived in Ukraine, the one in Chernovtsy does not seem very different from the others in age, unlike Kamenets city hall, or the exquisite silhouette, unlike the one in Dobromil, or modernism, unlike the city hall in Ivano-Frankovsk, or in famous names that are associated with the hall, unlike Buchatskiy magistrate. However, Chernovtsy cannot be imagined without this building for already 150 years.
In the 1820s it was decided that a beautiful building that could host a magistrate should be constructed. The construction was planned to take place in another area, above a steep cliff over the river Prut. Nevertheless, an engineer from Kalush A. Marin predicted that the city was going to expand to the south, and it took him 18 years to prove his point. Finally, in 1830 the building was commissioned.
Eleven more years had to pass before in March 1841 the Chernovtsy magistrate approved of the contract signed with Dr. Christophe von Petrovich. The first stone was placed into the foundation in April 1843. Following the ancient tradition, a few gold coins and a parchment letter with a message to the future generations were place into the foundation as well. Although the city hall was constructed according to the plan designed in Vienna, the place for construction was still chosen correctly.
The construction went on for 4 years, and in the end there was a huge building constructed according to classicism style, decorated with a tall tower and a courtyard. Initially the magistrate was planned to have 2 floors, and in 1847, as the construction was in progress, a third floor was ordered to be added. Since then the building was always used for administration purposes: the Chernovtsy city hall has witnessed Austrian officials, Romanian invaders and Russian occupants. Nowadays a Ukrainian yellow and blue flag is waving on the hall, and the façade is decorated with the emblem of the city.
One of the most interesting features of the city hall in Chernovtsy is the two clocks located on it. The first is placed on the tower, and the second, which was given as a gift by the city mayor Anton Kokhanovsky, is located on the fronton of the building. This clock that has a glowing dial has been ordered by the mayor in Prague and given to his beloved city as a gift after he was reelected.
November 2004 was when a new tradition started in Chernovtsy: a trumpeter dressed in national costume comes out to the balcony under the clock on the tower at noon and sings a Ukrainian folk song. Both citizens and guests of Chernovtsy come to hear this eternal tune. This is also symbolic, because the exact same place was once used by the employees of the magistrate to inform the citizens about the latest events of Chernovtsy and the world in three languages.