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Town square

The word “rynek” comes from a German term “ring” (literally ‘a ring’), which appeared in the Polish land together with locations based on the Magdeburgh Rights (however the German correlative of the word “rynek” (town square) is “Markt” or “Marktplatz”). “Ring” means a specific kind of town square with buildings placed in the middle. Within the town square the city/town hall was located, the seat of the local authorities, and the main city church was usually built nearby.

Settling on a new town was usually started with setting out such a square. When in a given place a satisfactory group of settlers gathered, a cross was erected and around it a square was measured out, called the town square. Having done that, the settlers set out the streets, and the whole settlement was surrounded by a wall to give protection from invaders.

The town square in Gostyń measures about one hectare, and has existed since the middle ages. Its size, shape and radially branching off roads testify to the location of the town on the Magdeburgh Rights. Its original building density is not known. It was certainly wooden. Without a doubt there was also a well and a pillory. For a few centuries the square functioned as a place of trade and a meeting place for the residents. Here weekly markets and fairs took place.

Now we are unable to establish, when the buildings in the center of the town square appeared. It is certain that they existed in the second half of the 18th century. They were houses and stalls of the local tradesmen and craftsmen.

On Sunday September the 15th 1811 a fire broke out in the Gostyń’s town square. It was caused by carelessness of a stable farmhand. The conflagration destroyed 53 houses, a brewery, a malt house and an inn belonging to the town’s owner – Marcin Węsierski from Podrzecze. The houses located in the northern part of the town square fell victim of the fire, as well as houses in Młyńska Street, most of the houses in Łazienna and Zamkowa Street, some of the houses in Szewska Street (later Klasztorna, now John Paul II Street) and in Kacza Street. We can assume that the fire broke out in one of the houses located in the middle of today’s town square. North-eastern or even eastern wind blew the sparks and burning debris mainly towards the southern and south-eastern part of the town, setting on fire houses located there.

In the middle of the 19th century brick buildings started to appear. The present day building density comes from the turn of the 20th century. Today the town square is a representative square of the town.