Toruń, or Thorn as it used to be known as by the Germans, is one of the oldest cities in Poland, having been established by the Teutonic Knights in 1233. This city, virtually untouched by the ravages of the Second World War, is just a two hour drive from
Gdańsk or two and a half hour drive from Warsaw.
Often quoted as one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Europe, there is much to see and do in this gem of a time capsule. The old part of the city is quite compact, so most of the top attractions can been seen on foot within one day, but if time is available, Toruń would be a fantastic long weekend destination.
So, without further ado, please find our 10 Things to See and Do in Toruń…
1. Learn About And See The City At The Old Town Hall and Tower
Building work on the Old Town Hall began in 1274. The hall was extended and rebuilt between 1391 and 1399, and extended again at the end of the 16th century. It is one of the most monumental town halls in Central Europe. The Masters of the Teutonic Knights' Order were hosted here, then later, the kings of Poland would stay in the building while visiting Torun. The hall now houses a museum, and the tower can also be accessed for a fantastic view over the old town.
2. View The Medieval Buildings Of The Old Town Square
The Old Town Square has been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997 and it is easy to see why. The city is famous for having preserved almost intact its medieval spatial layout and many Gothic buildings, all built from brick, including monumental churches, the Town Hall and many burgher houses, many of which can be seen from the square. Toruń has the largest number of preserved Gothic houses in Poland, many with Gothic wall paintings or wood-beam ceilings from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
3. Try Some Of Toruń’s Famous Gingerbread
Gingerbread (Polish: Pierniki Toruński) has been made here since at least 1380. Toruń benefitted from high-quality soil for its wheat, which in turn made fine flour, as well as being on the spice route from India through to Europe. This combination provided the bakers of Toruń with the best resources for making this yummy treat.
4. Knock Knock, Check Out The City Gates
The Bridge Gate was built in 1432. Initially, it was called the Crossing Gate or Ferry Gate as it stood on the route which led to the Vistula ferry crossing point. Its present name is derived from the first bridge across the Vistula in Toruń, which was built in 1500. Its rounded walls mitigated the impact of artillery fire and the specially designed loopholes allowed for the use of cannons for the defense of the city.
The Sailor's Gate was built in the Middle Ages, but its present appearance is a result of a major 19th-century reconstruction. Straddling the street that led to the port quay and St. Johns' parish church and the Old Town market square, the gate was the most important entrance to the city. It was here that Polish kings were ceremoniously greeted to the accompaniment of the great Tuba Dei bell.
The Convent Gate, also called the Holy Spirit Gate, was erected in the 14th century as one of four gates leading into Toruń from the Vistula River port. Despite slight modifications, the gate has been preserved in its original form of a gothic gate tower with three ogival recesses.
5. Try Not To Fall From The Leaning Tower
The Leaning Tower is a medieval defensive Tower which owes its name to its considerable tilt - a vertical deviation of about 1,5m. Legend has it that if you lean against the tower, with your backs and legs pressed against the wall, and do not fall forward, then you are righteous, faithful and honest. I failed the test!
6. Be Like A Kid And Make A Splash In The Cosmopolis Fountain
The Cosmopolis Fountain's design alludes to the solar system and the work of Nicolaus Copernicus - On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres.
7. Take A Selfie With Nicolaus Copernicus
The Nicolaus Copernicus Monument was erected in 1853 to celebrate the life of this Renaissance mathematician and astronomer (1473–1543) who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. The pedestal bears a Latin inscription drawn up by Alexander von Humboldt: "Nicolaus Copernicus Thorunensis, terrae motor, solis caelique stator" ("Nicolaus Copernicus of Thorun, mover of the earth, stopper of the sun and heavens").
8. Catch The City Skyline From The Panorama Toruńia
The Panorama Torunia is the site on the southern river bank where the old wooden bridge used to stand, and now serves as a viewing point. The panorama of the Toruń Old Town that can be admired from there was voted in 2007 one of the seven wonders of Poland.
9. Be A Knight In Shining Armour At Toruń Castle
The Toruń Castle or Thorn Castle was one of the first castles built by the Teutonic Order, with the construction starting in mid-13th century, and continued for about a hundred years. The new town of Toruń grew together with the Teutonic fortifications protecting it. Little of the castle survives to the present day, as much of it was destroyed during a town rebellion in 1454. The castle was partially excavated, rebuilt and turned into a historical monument in 1966.
10. Learn More About Toruń’s Most Favourite Son By Visiting The
House Of Nicolas Copernicus Museum
The houses at 15/17 Kopernika Street are considered to be the birthplace of the astronomer and displays the life and work of Copernicus.
Join us next time when we visit the concentration camps in Treblinka and Majdanek, and confront with the realities of the Nazis' crimes.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!
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