Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrPoland's best kept secret, Toruń, is a charming medieval town on the Vistula River. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, located about halfway between Warsaw and Gdańsk makes for a great stop in between, whether you opt for a day-trip or stay overnight. The town was founded by the Teutonic Order and is still rich with their architectural legacy. It was a prominent member of the Hanseatic League, an alliance of northern European cities that protected trade routes. During the 14th and 16th centuries, the river port town served as a major shipping center for wood, grain and salt.
As one of the few towns in Poland that miraculously survived the devastation of World War II, Toruń still retains its medieval look and the vast majority of the buildings are original. The town is also well known as the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who made the crucial discovery that the Earth is not the center of universe.
Wander along the cobblestone streets, follow the medieval walls and sample freshly baked gingerbread 'Piernik' while exploring Copernicus’ hometown. The highlight of Toruń is the Old Town Market Square with its massive red brick Town Hall, surrounded by dozens of shops and cafés. Within the market square there are several monuments, from a tribute to the Polish astronomer Copernicus, a bronze donkey sculpture, to the Flisakiem fountain with the figure of a craftsman, who, according to legend, rid the citizens of Toruń from a plague of frogs by playing his fiddle.
Be sure to climb up the Old City Town Hall’s tower. It offers great views of the city from above, featuring the pretty facades of buildings around Town Hall and brick Gothic churches. Toruń is also famous for its delicious gingerbread and there is even a gingerbread museum, where you can make your own tasty souvenir. The best time to visit Toruń is the spring or the autumn when the weather is mild and the tourists are few.
What to See & Do
Old Town HallMagnificent Gothic Old Town Hall, located in the center of the Old City Market Square, is a monument to Toruń's glory as the former trade empire. It was built in the late 14th century, when the medieval City of Toruń was at the peak of its prosperity. The astonishing building once housed merchant halls on the ground floor and municipal offices on the second floor. Today, it houses a local museum with very fine examples of glass, keys, guild boxes and paintings. Be sure to climb to the very top of the bell tower as the views are superb.
Teutonic Knights' Castle RuinsThe Castle was built by the Teutonic Knights in the 14th century but little more than the ruins remain as it was destroyed in 1454 by the locals who were rising up against the oppressive rule of the Teutonic Knights. As a ruin, the castle is inevitably less impressive than the history. The largest section of the castle to survive to present day is the sewage tower. The other section of the former castle remaining today is the cellar. The Castle also has a trebuchet, a battering ram, and a few other siege weapons from the 13th and 14th century on display. There is a small charge and it doesn't take long to see it all, but still worth a visit.
House of Nicolas CopernicusHouse of Nicolas Copernicus Museum, located in two Gothic houses on Copernicus Street, is dedicated to the famed astronomer's life and works. The displays are copies of important documents, models of his instruments and paintings. The museum's highlight is a short audiovisual presentation regarding Copernicus’ times in Toruń. Note that although the museum is situated in the Old Town, it is a little bit difficult to spot. Be sure to buy tickets as well to the World of Toruń Gingerbread located in the basement.
World of Toruń GingerbreadAnother reason for Torun’s fame is its delicious 'piernik' - gingerbread. While there aren’t many artifacts or exhibits, the wonderful gift shop with a wide array of gingerbread to choose from, and the historic significance of the museum itself make it well worth the visit. The guides are dressed in period costumes and explain the history and process of gingerbread making. You can also create your own sweet and spicy treats following ancient, traditional recipes and take it as a souvenir. Tickets are being sold 15 minutes before the entrance which is always at full hour.
Food & DrinkThe lovely town boasts plenty of drinking and dining options. There is a wide choice of restaurants surrounding the main square, where international and traditional Polish food is served. Żurek, bigos, pierogis, zapiekanka are just a few of the Polish specialties. Needless to say, it’s hard to beat sitting in a beautiful medieval square on a pleasant sunny day with a plate of traditional pierogies and a glass of local gingerbread beer.
If your traveling budget is tight, there is a also a small Milk Bar not far from the entrance to the Old Town which serves up delicious, authentic Polish cuisine at very cheap prices. Be sure to sample some of Toruń's renowned gingerbread too. The busiest time for restaurants is around 5 p.m. English menus are found in most restaurants.
ShoppingToruń offers everything from modern shopping malls and high street shops through to charming gift shops located on cobbled historic streets. The main shopping street is Szeroka Street, which runs from the Old Market Square towards the New Market Square. A variety of shops can also be found in the Old Town. You can find international brands in the suburban shopping malls like Galeria Copernicus and the Plaza.
Getting AroundToruń is best explored on foot. The town center is very compact, many of the cobblestone streets are pedestrian-only and the majority of the attractions, cafés, and restaurants are located in a very small Old Town area.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: Ayda. Last updated: Oct 31, 2015