Torun (Polish: Toruń, German: Thorn) is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Torun is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of is the birthplace of the famous Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. In 1997 the medieval part of the city became a World Heritage Site.
The Old Town of Torun became part of the list of Seven Wonders of Poland in 2007. Previously it was the capital of the Torun Voivodeship (1975–1998) and the Pomeranian Voivodeship (1921–1945). Since 1999, Torun has been a seat of the self-government of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and, as such, is one of its two capitals (together with Bydgoszcz). The cities and neighboring counties form the Bydgoszcz-Torun twin city metropolitan area.
A short history of Torun
Archaeologists dated the first settlement near Torun to 1,100 BC. During early medieval times, in the 7th through 13th centuries, there was an old Slavonic settlement here, at a ford in the Vistula river. In spring 1231 the Teutonic Knights crossed the river Vistula at the height of Nessau and established a fortress. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Kulm (Chełmno).
The original document was lost in 1244. The set of rights in general is known as "Kulm law". In 1236, due to frequent flooding, it was relocated to the present site of the Old Town. In 1263 Franciscan monks settled in the city, followed in 1239 by Dominicans. In 1264 the adjacent New Town was founded predominantly to house Torun's growing population of craftsmen and artisans. In 1280, the city (or as it was then, both cities) joined the mercantile Hanseatic League, and thus became an important medieval trade center.
The First Peace of Thorn ending the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War was signed in the city in February 1411. In 1440, the gentry of Thorn formed the Prussian Confederation, and in 1454 rose with the Confederation against the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights in the Thirteen Years' War. After almost 200 years, the New and Old Towns amalgamated in 1454. The Poles destroyed the Teutonic castle. The Thirteen Years' War ended in 1466 with the Second Peace of Thorn, where the Teutonic Order ceded their control over western provinces, becoming part of Royal Prussia. Thorn remained a free city, now under the patronage of the Polish king.
In 1557, during the Protestant Reformation, the city adopted Protestantism. In 1595 Jesuits arrived to promote the Counter-Reformation, taking control of St. John's Church. The Protestant city officials tried to limit the influx of Catholics into the city, as Catholics (Jesuits and Dominicans already controlled most of the churches, leaving only St. Mary's to Protestant citizens.
During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), the restoration of Augustus the Strong as King of Poland was prepared in the town in the Treaty of Thorn (1709) by Russian Tsar Peter the Great. In the second half of the 17th century, tensions between Catholics and Protestants grew, similarly to religious wars throughout Europe. In the early 18th century about 50 percent of the populace, especially the gentry and middle class, were German-speaking Protestants, while the other 50 percent were Polish-speaking Roman Catholics. Protestant influence was then pushed back after the Tumult of Thorn in 1724.
Gingerbread Museum (Żywe Muzeum Piernika)
The Living Museum of Gingerbread in Torun is the first so interactive museum in Europe. It has existed since 2006 and it is in the middle of the city center (199 steps from The Nicolas Copernicus Monument). Crossing the gates of the Museum will guarantee you two-time travels the first floor magically takes the visitors to the Medieval times. Here you can learn about every ritual connected with baking gingerbread. It all takes place under the watchful eyes of the Gingerbread Master and the charming Gingerbread Witch. The visitors prepare dough by themselves and then bake the specialties of Torun in traditional wooden molds.
The second floor is a manufacturing room from the 19th and the early 20th century, managed by the Rabiański siblings. Here the visitors will see the original German machines (used to bake the gingerbread), a vintage baking oven and the collection of wax gingerbread molds. What is more, everyone has a chance to decorate their own gingerbread with icing and take part in gingerbread decorating workshop led by the rzez Painter.
The Living Museum of Gingerbread is not a traditional museum where you watch exhibits in glass display cases. It is a special place where guests can take part in an interactive show led by experienced story-teller. This makes learning about history a real adventure. Apart from providing interactive show the museum also collects and exposes artifacts and other valuable items about the history of gingerbread. The collection has over 100 items and is continuously enriched. Many of these items are allowed to be touched by visitors and one can have a go on real and old bakery equipment and see how it all works. The museum also collects writings about the bakery-industry.
There are two showrooms. The bakery from 15th century is set on the first one. Quintessentially worth of seeing is a copy of “die Teigbreche” (or a “dough-breaking machine”) - a muscle powered equipment that knead gingerbread dough. Also, everyone can try working on a 150 years old quern-stones. This room walls are graced by many original molds from turn of 18th century.
The other show room is set for early 20th-century bakery. The heart and core of this exhibition room is an original stove from 1905 and taken from Międzyrzecz (Lubuskie Voivodeship) and rebuilt here. The L.G. Eberhardt factory blending machine from 1905 and equally old Otto Necke factory splitting machine complement the production line. All this machinery works and still may be used in the production process.
|Address||9 Rabiańska Street, Torun, Poland|
|Area||115.75 km2 (44.69 sq mi)|
The Bydgoskie District (Bydgoskie Przedmieście) is unique for its charming place along the Vistula escarpment. It has a vast and picturesque English-style Municipal Park of 1817, and the rich greenery and architecture. The present-day buildings are from the 19th and early 20th centuries in the Classicist, Eclectic, Art Nouveau, and neo-Gothic styles. Therefore, there are a lot of houses with half-timbered walls, corner turrets, and decorated gables with many details and ornaments. The exclusive and privileged suburb was inhabited by civil servants, officers, freelancers and other celebrated people who were meritorious not only for Toruń. In the interwar period Kazimiera Żuławska’s boarding house ‘Zofijówka’ hosted such eminent artists as Stanisław Przybyszewski, Tymon Niesiołowski, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Juliusz Osterwa and others. Here, the first Polish Naval Academy was established.
Medieval Gates of Torun
Only three out of the twelve medieval gates in Torun (eight in the Old City, four in the New City) have survived. Others were dismantled mainly in the second half of the 19th century, together with almost all the city walls. The surviving ones are along the Vistula. Two of all the gates were markedly broad and massive, which was a characteristic feature of the gates in Flanders. These included the non-preserved Paulinian Gate (Brama Paulińska) with a superstructure in the form of an octagon added in the first half of the 14th century and the surviving Monastic Gate (Brama Klasztorna) of the first half of the 14th century. Demolishing other gates, including Chełmno Gate (Brama Chełmińska), was a great loss for Torun.
Vistula riverside Torun
The Vistula riverside vista of Torun is considered to be among Poland’s most beautiful. In a 2007 poll by the Rzeczpospolita daily titled “Seven wonders of Poland” it was second only to the Wieliczka salt mine. Old Town buildings with a Teutonic castle that descend onto embankments have long been Torun’s cultural and social heart. Once a popular place to welcome the spring sunshine, embankment stairs are now one of the town’s most attractive sites. You can take a stroll here, relax in an outdoor bar and watch the river.
That is why the Torun municipality is investing in the riverside. Recently, the city completed the overhaul of the harbor owned by the Academic Sports Association of the Nicolaus Copernicus University. They converted it into a small marina for the residents and tourists alike. Back in 2014 the city built a leisure area there for families with kids—a mini beach filled with sand. You can recline in a deck chair here and watch the water or the kids playing in a new playground.