A beautiful morning around delightful Toruń
Toruń, a city I have never heard off in Northern Poland and lies off the main highway between Gdansk and Łódź. I didn’t know anything about the area but I knew that I was going to stop here to do a 5km Parkrun event one Saturday back in October 2019, as I was driving towards Malbork to conquer five castles in one weekend. After doing the 5km run through woodland on the outskirts of the city, I had time to head to the historic centre to check out the area which is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. After quite a bit of time here, I learnt the city is the birthplace to astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, that the city is one of the oldest in Poland as it dates back to the 8th century but was expanded greatly by the Teutonic Knights in the 12th century and hosts the Museum of Gingerbread which the town has been backing gingerbread here for quite some time.
The city once was one of the four biggest in Poland (around the 17th century) before being part of Prussia, then the German Empire. The city returned to Polish hands after the country regained independence in 1918 and somehow was spared bombing and destruction during the Second World War. O’ Adholf and his Nazi friends must have liked the city as it’s architecture is beautiful, ranging with different types from Brick Gothic, Baroque and Mannerism, so they left it alone. Also in the olden days, Toruń was believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
As I parked next to the river Vistula on the outskirts of the old city, the first thing I noticed straight away is fortifications walls. Not much of the fortress from olden times remain but dotted around the city are old towers and walls made from brick. There are also some entry and exit gates of the old fortress at certain parts of the city.
The first place I checked out was the ruins of the castle which was first built around the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights. The best bit of the castle which is preserved is the dansker, a sewage tower (basically where you would go to the toilet and the waste falls down the tower into the stream down below which connects to the river). There is a building which is newly built on the castle grounds which hosts a hotel.
Along the cobbled street heading westwards (passing many shops but many beautiful buildings at the same time) I landed up at the Old Town Hall which has stood here since 1274. Here the building now houses the Regional Museum but it was the clock tower I was interested in. After buying a ticket from a small shop in the courtyard of the town hall, I headed up the brick staircase (not one of the faint hearted this and there are no lifts going up). It seemed never ending at first, then I finally reached the bells behind the clock face where the staircase was now made out of wood.
Finally I made it to the top and what a great view I had. Despite it being cloudy and windy, I took my time up here, checking out the nearby buildings of the old town. In front of me I could see the cathedral, a church, the rooftops of all the pretty buildings down below (there is even one building with a yellow star on top, the building is known as ‘the house under the star’). Even the house of Nicolaus Copernicus can be seen. Not too far away is the river with a lot of trees dotted alongside the shores. For me, despite all the red brick buildings (too much brick for me), I actually enjoyed the views of the old town.
Whilst exploring the city I found out that the folks around here love the theatre and there are quite a few around here. There is even a children’s theatre near the ruins of the castle and managed to find some beautiful decor around the building. Also as the city is home to Nicolaus Copernicus, there is planetarium here (unfortunately the shows are in Polish, I would have loved to check this place out as I do love educating myself about space, the moon and the stars).
Away from the old town and driving out of the city, the place looked rather industrious, as if all the buildings were quickly built, having that old Soviet look about them but lucky when a new building was passed, it did brighten up the place. The city has a mixture of the old and new. Do not let the new parts of the city let you down because once in the old town, walking around, trying the gingerbread, doing some shopping, this place is a hidden gem in Europe which is worth checking out. I wish I had longer here but there were other castles and cities which needed exploring. I found this city by chance and so glad I had the opportunity to check it out.