Toruń

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Toruń's medieval Old Town or Starówka is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Toruń's medieval Old Town or Starówka is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Torun  is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population was 202,591 as of June 2016. Previously it was the capital of the Torun Voivodeship (1975–98) and the Pomeranian Voivodeship (1921–45). 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.

Torun is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with the first settlement dated back to the 8th century and later having been expanded in 1233 by the Teutonic Knights. Over centuries, it was the home for people of diverse backgrounds and religions. At one point, the city was considered the most modern cultural and technological centre in Medieval Europe. From 1264 until 1411 Torun was part of the Hanseatic League and by the 17th century it was one of the elite trading points, which greatly affected the city’s architecture ranging from Brick Gothic to Mannerism and Baroque. In the early-modern age, the city was a royal city of Poland, it was also considered one of four largest cities of Poland, after the partitions of Poland it was part of Prussia and later on the German Empire. After Poland declared independence in 1918, Torun was reincorporated into Polish territory, and, during World War II, as one of few cities in the country, it sustained no damage. This allowed the Old Town to be fully preserved with its iconic central marketplace.

Believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Torun is renowned for the Museum of Gingerbread, whose baking tradition dates back nearly a millennium, and its large Cathedral. Torun is noted for its very high standard of living and quality of life. In 1997 the medieval part of the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2007 the Old Town in Torun was added to the list of Seven Wonders of Poland.

Torun is the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

 History of Torun :  The first settlement in the vicinity of Torun is dated by archaeologists to 1100 BC (Lusatian culture). During early medieval times, in the 7th through 13th centuries, it was the location of an old Slavonic settlement, 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. 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 centre.

The First Peace of Thorn ending the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War was signed in the city in February 1411 leaving the town in the hands of the Order. In 1440, the gentry of Thorn formed the Prussian Confederation to further oppose the Knights’ policies. The Confederation rose against the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights in 1454 and its delegation submitted a petition to Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon asking him to regain power over Prussia as the rightful ruler. An act of incorporation was signed in Krakow (6 March 1454), recognizing the region, including Torun, as part of the Polish Kingdom. These events led to the Thirteen Years’ War. The New and the Old Towns amalgamated in 1454. The citizens of Thorn enraged by the Order’s ruthless exploitation, conquered the Teutonic castle, and dismantled the fortifications brick by brick, except for the Gdanisko tower, which was used until the 18th century for the gunpowder storage. During the war, Torun financially supported the Polish Army. The Thirteen Years’ War ended in 1466 with the Second Peace of Thorn, in which the Teutonic Order ceded their control over the city to Poland. The Polish King granted the town great privileges, similar to those of Gdansk. In 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun. In 1501, Polish King John I Albert died in Torun and his heart was buried in Torun’s St. John’s Church. In 1506 Torun became a royal city of Poland. In 1528, the royal mint started operating in Torun. A city of great wealth and influence, it enjoyed voting rights during the royal election period. Sejms of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were held in Torun in 1576 and 1626.

In 1557, during the Protestant Reformation, the city adopted Protestantism. Under Mayor Heinrich Stroband (1586–1609), the city became centralized. Administrative power passed into the hands of the city council. 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 Dominican friars) already controlled most of the churches, leaving only St. Mary’s to Protestant citizens. In 1677 the Prussian historian and educator Christoph Hartknoch was invited to be director of the Thorn Gymnasium, a post which he held until his death in 1687. Hartknoch wrote histories of Prussia, including the cities of Royal Prussia.

During the Great Northern War (1700–21), the city was besieged by Swedish troops. 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 subsequently pushed back after the Tumult of Thorn of 1724.

After the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, the city was annexed by Prussia (it was briefly regained by Poles as part of the Duchy of Warsaw in years 1807-1815). In 1809 Torun was successfully defended by the Poles against the Austrians. In 1875 Towarzystwo Naukowe w Toruniu (Torun Scientific Society), a major Polish institution in the Prussian Partition of Poland, was founded. In 1976 it was awarded the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta, one of highest Polish decorations. After World War I, Poland declared independence and regained control over the city. In interwar Poland Torun was capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.

Access : Coordinates : 53.022222, 18.611111 / By plane :  The nearest airports that offer commercial flights are in (60 km) Bydgoszcz (low cost airlines across Europe), Poznan – Lawica airport (140 km, low cost airlines across Europe), Gdansk – Lech Walesa airport (~180 km, low cost airlines across Europe, connected by motorway) and Warsaw – Okecie airport – long haul airlines (230 km) – or Modlin airport.

By train : Polish State Railways operates train connections to Torun from Warsaw, Poznan, Gdansk, Lodz, Katowice and Olsztyn. Torun’s main railway station 1 Torun Glowny is across the river Vistula from the city. To walk into town takes 35 minutes. A taxi into the old town will cost less than 20 zl. Alternatively, buses #22 and #27 run directly to the old town. These depart from both sides of the railway station  however, the kiosk for buying tickets is on the south side of the station. Take the bus two stops to Plac Rapackiego (You’ll also notice the old town as you cross the bridge – it’s the stop that immediately follows the bridge). You don’t need an additional ticket for the bag, as long as you don’t put it on the seats.

2 Torun Miasto railway station is another railway station which is smaller but situated much closer to the old town. Not all trains stop there, but if your train does then getting off at Torun Miasto is the simplest solution.

By car :  Highway A1 runs between Torun and Gdansk – quick way (170km). You can reach Lodz by A1 highway (175km). Warsaw can be reached via route 10 (220km) or via A1 + A2 motorways (260km). By bus :  There are many bus connections to Torun, and the 3 Bus station is just a short walk from the Old Town. (see Poland::By bus).

Attractions : Stare Miasto (Old Quarter) , Nicolaus Copernicus’ House , Old Town Hall , Tower of the Old Town Hall , Baj Pomorski Theatre , Cathedral of SS. Johns , Church of Virgin Mary , House Under the Star , Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Granaries , Krzywa Wieza (The Leaning Tower), Dwor Artusa (Artus Court, Artushof) , Vantage point on the left bank of Vistula River , Bydgoskie Przedmiescie (west of the Old Town) , Przedmiescie Swietej Katarzyny (Wilhelmstadt) , Ruins of Teutonic Knights Castle , Ethnographic Museum , Dybowski Castle Ruins , Forts of 19th-century Torun fortress , Motoarena Torun , Piwnice Radio Observatory (Piwnice) , Old-Town Market Square (Rynek Staromiejski) , Museum of Torun Gingerbread (Muzeum Torunskiego Piernika) ,

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