For over 500 years Oberlahnstein’s Old Town Hall has been one of the town’s most distinctive features. This building with its characteristic cupola housing the fire bell is not only a particularly attractive example of early Rhenish half-timber architecture, it is also one of the oldest half-timbered town halls in Germany. It is erected in a central location on the market square in the 15th century. The imposing structure is an impressive demonstration of the town’s prominence at the end of the Middle Ages: it is a visible expression of the pride of Oberlahnstein’s burghers.
From now on the town’s affairs are administered in this building, which is first mentioned as “town hall” in 1507. Justice is also dispensed here and the market is held in the older High Gothic hall on the ground floor. The town hall thus unites municipal self-government, judicial power and market rights under one roof. Apart from the right to erect a town wall, these were the three most important privileges bestowed on Oberlahnstein when it received its town charter in 1324.
Over the years the Old Town Hall is put to a wide variety of uses. At various times the large council chamber on the upper floor serves as a pharmacy and a classroom. On the ground floor is the night watchman’s duty room which later becomes the police station, the town lock-up or jail (known locally as the “Bulles”) and the fire brigade’s equipment room. The attic is used as a store-room for grain and other produce received in payment for land-rent and taxes. Today the Old Town Hall houses the municipal archive and the local museum.
The momentous and eventful history of the town of Oberlahnstein is still present here in the Old Town Hall. Paintings in the hall depict the election and dethronement of King Wenceslaus who ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1378 to 1400 and was deposed here in Lahnstein. In the south gable you will find the portraits and coats of arms of King Louis the Bavarian who granted Oberlahnstein its town charter, and Diether von Isenburg, the Archbishop and Elector of Mainz who lived in Lahnstein from 1461 to 1474.
In front of the building is the old market square with its medieval well. In 1937 the Baroque well covering made of wood was reconstructed to old plans.