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The Old and the New Town in Toruń, with the Teutonic Castle, were entered on the UNESCO list of the world’s most important historic sites in 1997.
Toruń - Copernicus monument / © Polish Tourist OrganisationToruń / © Polish Tourist OrganisationOld Town Square in Toruń / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Toruń´s gingerbread / © Polish Tourist OrganisationOld Town Hall in Toruń - interior / © Andrzej Skowroński │Polish Tourist OrganisationRuins of the Teutonic Knights’ castle in Toruń / © Polish Tourist Organisation
Toruń / © Polish Tourist OrganisationView on Toruń from Vistula river bank  / © Andrzej Skowroński │Polish Tourist OrganisationHome of Copernicus in Toruń / © Polish Tourist Organisation
The Town of Many Nations
The town was established in 1233 by the knights of the Teutonic Order. Across eight centuries of rich history, the city has been the home to many people of different nations and religions. It has been the capital of the Teutonic State, one of the most modern cultural formations in Medieval Europe. It then belonged to the Polish Crown, then Prussia and the II Reich since the beginning of the 19th century. From 1918 it again became a part of Poland. The town, with its original medieval architectonic structure, has been enriched through the ages with Gothic, Baroque and Secession edifices, and is an encyclopedia of culture.
 
The Vistula – A River of Golden Wheat
During hundreds of years Toruń was the centre of the European wheat trade, which was shipped down the River Vistula from fields in the eastern borderlands of Poland to the port of Gdańsk. The Vistula rafts men are commemorated with an original monument next to the Old Town Hall – a fountain with the statue of the rafts men giving a violin recital for ... the frogs. From the second half of the 13th century until the beginning of 16th century, Toruń belonged to the Hanzeatic Union and until the 17th century it was an elite trading towns. It was from the wheat trade that some of the merchant families of Toruń acquired their wealth and power, including: the Esken family (a section of the District Museum is located in their granary), the Kruger family, the ven der Linden family, the Koyen family (who left a genealogy book, illustrated with the coats of arms of Torunian families), and the Stroband family. Traces of this mercantile past can be found with every step taken in Toruń.
 
The Town of Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik), the scientist who led his contemporaries to the boundaries of modern science and the philosophy of the Cosmos, was born in Toruń in 1473. His work is called the 'Copernican Revolution' – the victory of the mind. In the museum, which is located in his home (on Copernicus Street) the oldest editions of his scientific work and the astronomical equipment with which he studied the cosmos can be seen. In the nearby St John's Cathedral, you can visit the font where he was baptized, while in the Old Town Market there is a 2.6m high bronze statue of Copernicus on a granite plinth on which is engraved in Latin: 'Nicolaus Copernicus Thorunensis Terrae motor, Solis Caelique stator' (Nicolaus Copernicus, born in Toruń, moved the Earth and stopped the Sun and the Skies).
 
The Town of Scientists
The work of Copernicus has been continued by such world-famous figures as Aleksander Wolszczan who is counted among the most prominent contemporary astronomers. The Nicolaus Copernicus University has 40,000 students in the fields of humanities, mathematics and natural sciences. The Toruń School of Astronomy and Paper Conservation, which teaches specialists hired by museums, is known worldwide. In April Toruń hosts the Science and Arts Festival organised by the University during which the mysteries of the laboratories are disclosed and members of the public can participate in the observations of the sky in the astronomical centre. Visit the planetarium at Franciszkańska Street where films about the solar system are screened on a dome 15m in diameter.
 
The Theatre of the Town in the Old Town Market
In the middle of the Old Town Market, there is an 18th century town hall,  the historic museum and  concert venue. On the southern facade, the representative Artus Manor was built in the Neo-Renaissance style to replace of the Gothic Artus Manor, rendered famous by the signing of the Toruń Treaty in 1466 that ended the 13-year war between the Teutonic Knights and the Polish Kingdom. The Neo-Gothic building of the Polish Post and the Gothic Franciscan Church are on the western facade, while the 17th century mansion, where the guests of the town are hosted, fills a part of the northern facade. This hotel, with due cause, is called 'Under the Three Crowns', because it is here that three crowned heads stayed. Historians confirm that Queen Maria, the widow of King Jan III Sobieski, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great with his son Aleksy and the Polish King of Saxon origin, August II the Strong, all stayed here.
 
Magical Places
On the way from the boulevards on the Vistula River to the Old and New Town, jewellers, artistic ateliers and historic cellars are filled with the voices of guests and the aroma of delicious food and wonderful drinks. In an alley next to the fortified walls of the town, stands the Leaning Tower, 1.5m tall. Its muddled history conceals a spicy affair. Other magical places include: Ciasna Street with its arches that tower over the heads of passersby to join the mansions above, Podmurna Street which runs beside the fortified wall that runs around the whole of the medieval town, the vast Philadelphia Boulevard on the Vistula River and the coffee shops on the boats moored to the pier, the New Town Market and the old-town shopping mall on Szeroka Street.
 
The Unconquerable Fortress
During the time of the Napoleonic wars the French transformed Toruń into a fortress. The Old Town was surrounded by 12 brick bastions, which were strong enough to withstand the siege of the Russian Army. When Toruń was ruled by the Prussians, the fortress was enlarged to the size of a modern, strategic fortification, which was never conquered.
 
Museums and Galleries
The Toruń District Museum contains several departments. In the Old Town Hall an exhibition of interior design, furniture, painting is held. In the Copernicus House, see the life and work of the great astronomer. In the Esken House, you can view the history of the town and the region. While in the Baroque mansion, 'Under the Star', there is an exhibition of art and oriental craft. There is an ethnographic park in the center of Toruń, where the cultural heritage of the region can be admired. For example 18 to 20th century farms, granaries, blacksmiths, windmills and a residential fishing barge. Near the market stands the Travellers' Museum, commemorating the globetrotter and filmmaker, Tony Halik. Many galleries can be found on a walk around the Old Town: 'Wozownia', Children's Gallery, the Muse Gallery and the Photography Gallery.
 
Sweet Catherine Gingerbread
No one can leave Toruń without a packet of gingerbread. These spiced cakes, baked according to recipes dating back to the 15th century, have a unique taste and aroma. The most famous ones, coated with chocolate, are in the shape of a heart and have a special name: 'Cathy' (Katarzynki). They are made to commemorate a confectionary chef who was in love with the beautiful, but cold hearted Catherine and conquered her only after he had baked for her 'the best gingerbread in the world', which the capricious lady had requested. When she tasted it she understood how sweet love is and 'Cathy's' they became.
 
Antiques and Rare Objects
As you wander around the Old and New Town you will come across antiquarian bookshop, artistic ateliers and jewelers. Books, old and new graphics, paintings, silver jewelry incrusted with amber are the most often bought mementos of the town.
 

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Toruń - The Town of Copernicus / The Town of Many Nations: Location

Poland GPS latitude/longitude: 53.00156 , 18.60534

 

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