Torun, Poland

Torun is an ancient Polish city on the Vistula River: in the 13th century, the knights of the Teutonic Order lived here. They built a fort, a fortress and a castle here for their residence.

Tourists come here to look at the remains of the fortress wall and other monuments of the Middle Ages. There are many ancient buildings in Torun – the entire city center is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. And it will be especially interesting here for those who are passionate about astronomy. Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, and the locals treat this fact with great respect: the city has his monument, house-museum, planetarium and observatory with a radio-controlled telescope.

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How to get there

Several major motorways lead to Torun, including the A15 (Olsztyn-Wroclaw-Poznan), A-10 (Warsaw-Szczecin) and A1 (Helsinki-Gdansk-Katowice-Budapest-Athens). In the city center there is a bus station from which buses depart to Germany, France, Italy, the Benelux countries.

But the railway station, although located far from the historical part of the city, is a major transport hub, where trains come from almost all major Polish cities, in particular from Warsaw – 12 direct trains per day.

A high-speed tourist train with panoramic windows runs between Malbork and Torun.

Fans of air travel can be advised to choose a flight to Warsaw, from which Torun is a little more than 200 km.

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A bit of history

The first settlements in the vicinity of today’s Torun appeared here in 1100 BC, much later, at the beginning of the Middle Ages, a fortification was formed here that guarded the approaches to the river, but by 1230, when the Teutons arrived here, it had already been destroyed. The Teutons built their castle by 1231, which, together with the village surrounding it, received in 1233 the status of a city with the name Torun.

Teutons, Franciscan monks, Dominicans came here, bringing elements of their culture, leaving a mark on the architecture of the city.

In the 14th century, the city of Torun joined the Hanseatic League, then there were numerous wars and no less numerous destruction and conquerors, mostly the city belonged to the Germans, and in 1919, after the First World War, following the results of the Treaty of Versailles, Torun, as the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, became part of Poland.

After the German invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, the city was re-annexed to Germany, and the Nazis set up a concentration camp in its vicinity, known as Stalag XX-A. The mournful memory of these events is kept by the city chronicles. In 1945, Torun was liberated by Soviet troops and returned to the Polish Republic. By a happy coincidence, the city escaped serious destruction during the Second World War, and the years between the two most terrible wars of the 20th century were its heyday: it was then that its transport system was formed, very thoughtful and logical, extensive housing construction began, new bridges and industrial enterprises appeared. Thanks to these circumstances, Torun has preserved many historical buildings, and the period that in other cities of Europe was devoted to reconstruction after the war.

Souvenirs from Torun

Gingerbread has been made in Torun for centuries. One political system is replaced by another, high technologies and methods of weather forecasting are being improved, fashion is changing, and the recipe for gingerbread remains unchanged from year to year, from century to century. That is why they are the most authentic (and the most delicious) souvenirs from the city of Torun.

Cuisine and restaurants

A tourist does not risk staying hungry in this city: many cafes and restaurants for every taste hospitably open their doors to visitors. Modern and antique-styled, pretentious and democratic, they all offer a varied menu, which almost always includes national dishes. But of particular interest to tourists is the tavern “Under the smart apron”, which is located in an old stone house and has been operating in the city since 1700.

Entertainment and attractions of Torun

The city center is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as one of the largest architectural complexes of Gothic buildings in Poland has been preserved here. Most of the historical buildings are concentrated around the Market Square and on the streets that originate from it. The semantic center is the massive rectangular building of the Town Hall, built in the 13th-14th centuries in the Gothic style. Today, its premises house the District Museum, which is of interest to a collection of medieval art objects, a gallery of portraits of Polish kings and a collection of Polish paintings.

In front of the town hall there is a monument with the inscription: Nikolaus Copernicus Thorinensis Terrae motor, solis Coeligue stator, which translated into Russian means “Nicholas Copernicus, a resident of the city of Torun, set the Earth in motion, stopped the Sun and the sky.” The inscription exhaustively reflects the essence of the matter: after all, it was in this city that the great astronomer was born and lived, it is this capacious phrase that fully reflects the contribution of the scientist to world science.

Not far from the Town Hall there is a stone house in which the scientist was born on February 19, 1473. During its history, the building was rebuilt many times, but in the 60s of the last century it was restored and brought to its original form. Now in this house there is a memorial museum of Nicolaus Copernicus. In the same part of the city, several cathedrals attract attention.

St. John’s Church is one of the oldest in the city. Gothic and baroque are intricately intertwined in its architectural appearance, the baroque interiors are luxurious, and the bell of this church is one of the largest in Poland and bears the name “The Trumpet of the Lord”. Of interest are the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary and the Church of St. Jacob, the decoration of which is no less magnificent and pompous. On the banks of the Vistula are the ruins of an ancient fortress of the Crusaders. Torun can also boast of its leaning tower. Built in the 13th century, it still stands firmly, only its top has moved away from the horizontal by one and a half meters.

Torun, Poland