Kosciuszko Market Square

The Market Square – in the 18th century it used to be the town’s commercial centre. On the 24th day of June, on St. John’s Day, one of the largest fairs was organised here. The central building of the Market Square was the Town Hall, performing primarily commercial functions. In the market square, there was a place for the “whipping post”, where judgments were executed, most often during fairs. There also stood a wooden figure of Themis – the symbol of municipal jurisdiction. From the side of the church, in front of the Town Hall there stood a figure of Saint Florian and fire-fighting tools. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Market Square, also called Bazaar Market, was surrounded by numerous shops, craft workshops and service points. Before the year 1897, at the outlet of Mikołajewska Street (today Sienkiewicza Street), a fountain was built, which became the landmark of the Market Square and a meeting place. In the year 1900, the Fara Church started to be erected and on September 17th, 1905, the church was consecrated. In the year 1919, the market was given the name Kosciuszko Market Square. In the Interwar Period, besides the commercial function, it had representative role. At the Unknown Soldier Plaque, state ceremonies were carried out, the Sea Day was celebrated, as well as jubilees of Białystok’s Voluntary Fire Brigades (BOSO). Around the Town Hall, in the surrounding tenement houses, there were pharmacies, pastries, photo labs, many other shops and service outlets. In the market square stood hansom cabs, city buses. Near the fountain, there used to be a petrol station. In order to raise its status and give the Kosciuszko Market Square the character of great city market, the fair was relocated to Sienny Market Square and in the year 1934, the tradition of erecting a Christmas tree was introduced. On September 15, 1939, Germans entered Białystok. Plundering of Jewish shops started and murdering of their owners. On September 22, 1939, Germans handed Białystok over to Russians. In the year 1940, the Kosciuszko Market Square changed its name to Soviet Market Square. Shops, restaurants, pharmacies, service outlets were nationalized. Queues to shops were more and more often seen. Rightful owners were thrown out of their homes. During the Soviet occupation (1939-41) Russians pulled apart the town hall. On June 27, 1941, German troops again entered the town. The Kosciuszko Market Square changed its name to Gross Market Strasse. At the place were once stood the Town Hall, the occupants erected propaganda map of theirs war successes. Whilst falling back from Białystok in 1944, Germans destroyed the entire centre of the town, changing the Kosciuszko Market Square into a sea of rubble.