The Charming Medieval City of Toruń

Toruń is known as the city of gingerbread and Nicolaus Copernicus, but it is also an important communication center and one of the Hanseatic cities. Its architecture reflects western influences. For many years it was inhabited by members of the Teutonic Order, and traces of the former wealth of the city can be found in the cornices of old tenement houses. There’s a lot  to be seen, so if you’re short on time, here are some tips and hints on how to make the most of your one day in Toruń.

Toruń Old Town

Let our starting point be the marvelous Old Town, reigned by the Old Town Hall. This 15th-century building served an administrative purpose until the Second World War. Nowadays it hosts a museum with a collection of gothic art and handicraft. Naturally, the interiors themselves are also worth seeing, especially the Great Chamber, where you can see the most famous portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus.

If you’re fond of breathtaking views, we recommend climbing the Town Hall Tower. The steps are pretty steep, but the skyline of Toruń is definitely worth the effort.

Another distinctive building is the Artus Court. It is in fact quite new, because it was built in the 19th century, but it definitely stands out among all the tenement houses. It hosts Toruń Culture Center. Don’t forget to visit the ground floor, where you can buy delicious gingerbread. 

Next on the list are two nearby churches. The first one - the Holy Spirit Church - is located on the Market Square and it amazes with its rococo interiors. If you look up, you’ll see impressive pipe organs. The second one is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a mixture of different architecture styles. On one of its walls you can see the oldest skyline of Toruń, painted in 1594.

It is worth noting that the Medieval Town of Toruń is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

Saint Johns’ Cathedral

The construction of this huge cathedral began in the 13th century, and the tower dates back to the 15th century. Inside there are some very precious pieces of gothic sacral art. In the cathedral tower you’ll find the second most recognizable bell in Poland, called “Tuba Dei”, that has been hanging there since 1500. Believe it or not, it weighs as much as 7200 kilograms!

Another precious thing that can be found in the cathedral is the old baptismal font, which was used when Nicolaus Copernicus was baptized in 1473.

And if you’re up for some more pretty views, don’t forget to climb to the viewing deck on top of the cathedral tower!

In the footsteps of Copernicus

We’ve already mentioned his portrait and the chapel where he was baptized, but Copernicus also had a home in Toruń. And we are not talking about a random tenement house that has been named after him, but one that actually belonged to his father, and that nowadays is one of the most beautiful examples of gothic architecture. It holds a museum that displays interiors from the times when Copernicus lived and it is really worth a visit, but if you don’t have enough time, you can also take a virtual tour of the house.

On the Main Market Square you’ll also find the most famous monument of the astronomer.

The leaning tower of… Toruń

That’s right. You don’t have to go all the way to Italy to get that fancy shot of yourself supporting a leaning tower - go to Toruń instead! Our Polish leaning tower forms part of the city’s defense system from the 13th century. The top of the tower is displaced by almost 1.5 meters from where it would be if the tower was perfectly vertical.

According to legend, the construction of the tower was supposed to be punishment for one of the Teutonic knights, who had broken the rules of the order by falling in love and secretly meeting a woman. The tilted tower symbolizes the deviation from moral conduct.

Ruins of the Teutonic castle

The Toruń castle was once proof of the Order’s might and power - it was the first and the oldest stronghold on Prussian territory. The castle was pulled down by the citizens of Toruń at the end of the 15th century, during an anti-Teutonic uprising. Nowadays there are only ruins left, but they are very picturesque and worth a visit, especially given that they are located by the Vistula river.

The banks of the Vistula river

Warsaw has its boulevards, and so does Toruń. The Philadelphia Boulevard is a popular site for taking a nice walk during the day, as well as for holding events in the evening. Let’s be frank: it offers stunning views. And the best part is that you keep walking along a brick defensive wall with gothic city gates.

Toruń has also got an island, located between the Vistula and its river arm. There’s a nature reserve on the island, which makes it a perfect place for those who wish to escape the crowded streets of the city. There are also castle ruins on the island. Not Teutonic, but Polish. The castle was built in the 15th century by king Władysław Jagiełło. 

Toruń museums

We’ve already mentioned the museum in the Old Town Hall, but it is not the only place worth visiting when in Toruń. Very close to the Old Town, there is an Ethnographic Museum and a heritage park where you can see houses from all over northern Poland, as well as a windmill, a water mill and a forge. The museum has a very special atmosphere. After all, it is not a usual thing to find a piece of the countryside in the middle of the city.

And as the icing on the cake, don’t forget to visit the Gingerbread Museum. One of the first associations with Toruń is gingerbread, so it would be a crime to leave the city without having at least a bite. The museum will tell you the story of how gingerbread was made in the past, as well as let you have a go at making some yourself.

Can you visitit Toruń with RealPoland?

Of course! It's included in the itinerary of both of our small group tours of Poland: the Ultimate Poland Tour and the Polish Delight Tour. You can also visit Toruń as part of your tailor-made private Poland tour or a one-day excursion from Warsaw or Gdańsk.

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