Cities in Poland: Toruń and around

Leaving the coast, you can continue down of Pomerania. This is a trip back in time to a land of Gothic architecture, old and modern-day knights and historical towns, of which the most charming is Toruń. The main draw for tourists is an array of Teutonic fortresses that once controlled the transport of grain down the Vistula and protected the order's capital.


Commanding the high bank of the Vistula, the charming town of Gniew retains amedieval atmosphere. The lofty tower of St. Nicholas' Church ooms above narrow streets which converge on a market square lined with 18th-century arcaded houses. Nearby you can see large fragments of the town walls dating from the 14th-15th centuries.

Gniew's major attraction is a model Teutonic stronghold , featuring a system of long dungeons which lead, even, to a well bottom. The torture devices in the courtyard are quite popular with tourists, who queue there for snapshots. Surrounded by powerful walls, the castle provides an appropriate setting for jousting tournaments. Other tourist-oriented activities include medieval feasts, during which guests (dressed in period costumes) meet ladies of the court, knights and other castle residents.


Driving from Świecie to Toruń, you can stop for a while at Chełmno, a charming old town founded in 1233. It is girdled by a well-preserved ring of walls, more than 2 km long and featuring no fewer than 23 towers.


13th century Toruń was one of the first towns founded by the Teutonic Knights. The city is situated on the Vistula River, at the meeting point of the Chełmno Lake District and the Toruń Basin. The city has 300 listed buildings. It's evocative Old Town is surrounded by green modern suburbs. A member of the Haensatic Language, it prospered on the grain trade and drew for centuries from both Polish and German cultures, with Catholics and Protestants living side by side - if not always in peace. Because of it's historic value, in 1997 Toruń was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

The best place to start a walk around Toruń is the town hall, offering a great view over the Old Town. Modelled on Flanders architecture, the brick town hall was erected in 14th century, but what you see today dates from 1737, when it was rebuilt following a great fire. Today it is one of Poland'soldest museums, dedicated to medieval art, local craft and modern Polish painting.

Worth seeing points in Toruń : Strolling around the Old Town, make a stop at the House Under the Star ; nearby you will find a "Live Museum" with ethnografic exhibition; note the 13th century huge St. Mary's Church with magnificent organ in the nave, SS Johns' Cathedral on Żeglarska street, Copernicus House - supposedy the birthplace othe great scholar and a first-class example of urban gothic architecture. For military buffs a good place is Esken Palace. Have a walk along bulwar Filadelfijski , separating the Old Town from Vistula. On one side you can enjoy a fine view of the opposite river bank, while on the other stretches an almost intact defensive wall. You will find a Leaning Tower on the way, one of the most peculiar landmarks of Toruń. If uoi feel tired, the best place for a rest is Kepa Brzozowska , an island separated from the city by an arm of the river called Mała Vistula (Small Vistula). It is very rare example of a natural reserve located within the boundaries of a large city. Near Old Townyou will find a "Live Museum" with ethnografic exhibition.

Toruń gingerbread

This local speciality, produced as early as the 14th century, is more than just a treat for the sweet-toothed. Gingerbread cakes (pierniki), sculpted painstakingly by the best craftsmen, then painted, gilded and decorated with intricate details, were in the past highly prized gifts, often presented to Polish kings and foreign dignitaries.

The best place in Toruń to buy gingerbread is the factory shop of Kopernik SA (Żółkiewskiego st, 34).

Other sights

Teutonic Castle in Golub-Dobrzyń - renowned internationally for popular knights' tournaments, its most striking feature is a wide stairway through which knights once rode up to an undressing room.

Mennonite Cemetery in Stogi (near Malbork) - one of the most significant sites of its kind, dating back to the 17th century.

Granaries in Grudziądz - a complex of 26 huge granaries from the 14th-16th centuries.

Ciechocinek - one of the most popular spas in Poland, boasting remarkable 19th-century saltworks, three unique wooden constructions stretching for about two km in total, still working and responsible for the town's marine microclimate.

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

See other places worth seeing in Toruń area: Malbork - Teutonic Castle

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