Die Börse in Narva als Symbol ihrer Zeit

Küng, Enn
June 2012
Forschungen zur Baltischen Geschichte;2012, Vol. 7, p61
Academic Journal
From 1695 until the beginning of the Great Northern War, an elegant building was being constructed adjacent to the Narva market square, one that the city council called the stock exchange. Instead of addressing the architectural or art-historical issues of the building, the article examines the economic situation at the end of the 17th century that allowed the city to undertake the construction of such a magnificent building. Additionally, the disagreements over the construction work between the city and Otto Wilhelm von Fersen, the Governor-General of Ingria are discussed. During the last quarter of the 17th century, Narva's growing trade relations with prominent maritime nations in Western Europe necessitated the modernisation of the city's business infrastructure. One of the proposals was to follow the example of Amsterdam and construct a stock exchange building with the accompanying trading and warehousing areas. There was also interest in having foreign merchants store their goods in a single place where they would be easier to control, so the trade between foreigners would not violate the pre-emptive rights of local merchants. The building -- a large-scale, expensive edifice, the construction of which was financed from the city's funds -- was planned with visiting foreigners in mind; more specifically, the city council hoped to use it to attract foreign traders. Narva's first public building (and first such experience) was the city hall constructed between 1668 and 1675, but the stock exchange was to be even more spectacular, a jewel on the city's main square as envisioned by the council. However, its construction also reflects the city council's push toward autonomy, being an attempt to independently decide municipal matters and preferably to circumvent the Governor-General's institution. Thus, the construction of the building became for the city an ordeal of its own. Certain disagreements with Governor-General Fersen forced the city council to take evasive action and as the conflict escalated, a resolution had to be found from Stockholm. Fortunately for Narva, the necessity of the stock exchange and warehouses was understood there and the construction was allowed to proceed. In the long term, however, the Narva city council failed to bring the idea to fruition. The construction of the stock exchange lasted almost a decade, during which the building enclosure was completed, but in 1704, as Russian forces occupied the city, its foreign trade came to a standstill for a long time. The stock exchange building never came to serve its original function, yet it continued to symbolise the glory days of commerce in Narva. The building was destroyed with the rest of the city during the 1944 bombings.


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