Toruń – the city of gingerbread – is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with beginnings going back to prehistoric times. The city lies between km 730 and 738 of the Vistula. The right-bank side of the city lies in Pomorze (Pomerania) and the left-bank side in Kujawy (Kuyavia). The city’s attractive location, on the river and on the amber trail, determined its significance in the history of Poland and Europe. In 1230 the Teutonic Knights settled here, and in 1280 Toruń became a member of the Hanse – an association of Northern European commercial cities. In 1411, a year after the battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), a peace treaty was signed in Toruń, ending the great Polish–Teutonic war, but as soon as 1454 the outbreak of an anti-Teutonic uprising in Toruń led to the Thirteen Years’ Polish–Teutonic war. During the war, Casimir IV Jagiellon issued an act incorporating Prussia into the Kingdom of Poland and incorporated Toruń into Poland as well, granting privileges that gave it independence and political autonomy. The 16th and 17th centuries were the golden age for Toruń, a time when the city grew wealthy mainly through river trade and international fairs. It was also in this period that rafters’ tradition began to emerge in Toruń – rafters’ initiation ceremonies took place here. Moreover, Toruń became a Lutheran city at that time. The 18th century Swedish invasions caused much damage, especially that in 1703, which led to the burning of a large part of the market square, the city hall and churches. Five years later, a plague epidemic broke out that decimated the city’s population. In 1793, as a result of the second partition of Poland, Toruń was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia. In Napoleonic times, Toruń was pillaged and destroyed many times by passing troops. After the Congress of Vienna, Prussian authorities began to convert the city into a stronghold. After World War I, Toruń returned to Poland and started to develop dynamically After World War II, in the times of the Polish People’s Republic, the city lost in importance, giving way to the more working-class Bydgoszcz. At present, the city has 205,000 residents and is the seat of the Office of the Marshal of the kujawsko-pomorskie voivodeship (Bydgoszcz is the seat of Voivodeship Office).
In 1997, Toruń was included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. The heritage sites put on that list are the 13th-century complex of old and new town as well as the ruins of the Teutonic Knights’ castle.
THE MAJOR ATTRACTIONS OF TORUŃ
OLD TOWN HALL
Built towards the end of the 14th c. An interesting fact is that the town hall has as many windows as there are days in a year, as many rooms as there are weeks and as many towers as there are seasons.
SAINT JOHNS’ CATHEDRAL
This is the oldest Gothic church in the Chełmno Land. Its construction began in 1233, the year Toruń was granted a city charter. In the church, there is a Gothic font at which Nicolaus Copernicus was baptised.
CONTEMPORARY ART CENTRE “ZNAKI CZASU”
It was opened in 2008 and is one of the most modern centres in Poland dedicated to contemporary art. The exhibition space is over 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft). In addition, the centre has a cinema, Księgarnia Sztuki bookshop and the Sömmerings’ Reading Room.
It is here that the Toruń’s most eminent resident and the author of the heliocentric model of the world, Nicolaus Copernicus, was born in 1473. At present, the building houses a museum devoted to the astronomer with exhibitions concerning his life and work.
THE GINGERBREAD MUSEUM
Located at 9 Rabiańska Street. This is an interactive museum, located in a 15th-century bakery, where gingerbread cakes are produced in accordance with old recipes and by means of such tools as were used 500 years ago.
THE RIVERSIDE TORUŃ
Between old city walls and the Vistula, there is Bulwar Filadelfijski (Philadelphia Boulevard). The name of the boulevard derives from that of Toruń’s partner city – Philadelphia. In return, one of the squares in Philadelphia bears the name of Toruń Triangle. At the boulevard, you can find inscribed quotations from the cult film Rejs (The Cruise) – it was at the boulevards that the first scenes of this film were shot.
The right-bank and left-bank Toruń are connected by the J. Piłsudski Road Bridge, the E. Malinowski Railway Bridge and the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) Motorway Bridge.
Not far from the Old Town, there are 13th-century granaries, testifying to the city’s wealth in the times when it used to be an international commercial centre. During the greatest trade boom, there were more than 100 granaries here.
Toruń lies on International Waterway E40, connecting the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea; it is also an element of the Bydgoszcz Waterway Junction.
There are river ports in Toruń: Drzewny and Zimowy, as well as numerous sailing harbours: AKS (Amateur Sports Club), AZS (Academic Sports Association) near the Old Town, KS Budowlani, Szkwał, Towimor, Walter, Yacht Klub Toruń, Liga Morska i Rzeczna (Maritime and River League).
In the tourist season, river communication functions: the Katarzynka boat, connecting Bulwar Filadelfijski (Philadelphia Boulevard) with Kępa Bazarowa island and Dybowski Castle; passenger ship the Wanda (cruises on the Vistula); passenger ship the Wiking (cruises on the Vistula).