Toruń [ˈtɔruɲ] ( listen) (German: Thorn) 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 Toruń Voivodeship (1975–98) and the Pomeranian Voivodeship (1921–45). Since 1999, Toruń 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–Toruń twin city metropolitan area.
Toruń 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 Toruń 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, Toruń 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, Toruń is renowned for the Museum of Gingerbread, whose baking tradition dates back nearly a millennium, and its large Cathedral. Toruń 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 Toruń was added to the list of Seven Wonders of Poland.
Toruń is the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
The first settlement in the vicinity of Toruń 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 Kraków (6 March 1454), recognizing the region, including Toruń, 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, Toruń 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 Gdańsk. In 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Toruń. In 1501, Polish King John I Albert died in Toruń and his heart was buried in Toruń's St. John's Church. In 1506 Toruń became a royal city of Poland. In 1528, the royal mint started operating in Toruń. 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 Toruń 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 Toruń was successfully defended by the Poles against the Austrians. In 1875 Towarzystwo Naukowe w Toruniu (Toruń 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.
Listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997, Toruń has many monuments of architecture dating back to the Middle Ages. The city is famous for having preserved almost intact its medieval spatial layout and many Gothic buildings, all built from brick, including monumental churches, the Town Hall and many burgher houses. The most interesting monuments are:
Toruń has the largest number of preserved Gothic houses in Poland, many with Gothic wall paintings or wood-beam ceilings from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Toruń, unlike many other historic cities in Poland, escaped substantial destruction in World War II. Particularly left intact was the Old Town, all of whose important architectural monuments are originals, not reconstructions.
Major renovation projects have been undertaken in recent years to improve the condition and external presentation of the Old Town. Besides the renovation of various buildings, projects such as the reconstruction of the pavement of the streets and squares (reversing them to their historical appearance), and the introduction of new plants, trees and objects of 'small architecture', are underway.
Numerous buildings and other constructions, including the city walls along the boulevard, are illuminated at night, creating an impressive effect - probably unique among Polish cities with respect to the size of Toruń's Old Town and the scale of the illumination project itself.
Toruń is divided into 24 administrative districts (dzielnica) or boroughs, each with a degree of autonomy within its own municipal government. The Districts include: Barbarka, Bielany, Bielawy, Bydgoskie Przedmieście, Chełmińskie Przedmieście, Czerniewice, Glinki, Grębocin nad Strugą, Jakubskie Przedmieście, Kaszczorek, Katarzynka, Koniuchy, Mokre, Na Skarpie, Piaski, Podgórz, Rubinkowo, Rudak, Rybaki, Stare Miasto (Old Town), Starotoruńskie Przedmieście, Stawki, Winnica, Wrzosy.
The most recent statistics show a decrease in the population of the city, to 205,934 in the middle of 2009. This is mainly because quite a large number of citizens have been moving to nearby communities, adjacent to the formal administrative area of Toruń, but still outside it. As a result, Toruń is surrounded by a belt of densely populated settlements, whose inhabitants work, shop and entertain in the city proper, but do not officially live there.
In recent years, a discussion has been taking place as to whether or not these surrounding communities should be incorporated into the city's administrative area. This seems rather inevitable in the longer term, though many say Toruń has almost reached the limit of its development within the city's boundary.
Inside the city itself, most of the population is concentrated on the right (northern) bank of the Vistula river. Two of the most densely populated areas are Rubinkowo and Na Skarpie, housing projects built mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, located between the central and easternmost districts; their total population is about 70,000.
The Bydgoszcz–Toruń metro area of Toruń and Bydgoszcz, their counties, and a number of smaller towns, may in total have a population of as much as 800,000. Thus the area contains about one third of the population of the Kuyavia-Pomerania region (which has about 2.1 million inhabitants).
The transport network in the city itself has been a subject of much criticism for years. Although the city proper is not very large, the underdeveloped street and road network is a source of problems. It has to deal not only with a traffic generated by Toruń itself, but also with heavy transit and metropolitan traffic. Even the construction of new wide avenues, both by reconstructing existing streets and by construction of others from scratch, has not been enough. The most serious problem, however, is that only a single car traffic bridge crosses the Vistula river inside the city's boundaries.
The construction of beltways, and thus the reduction of the inflow of vehicles into the city, has helped significantly, but still the existence of only one downtown bridge causes serious transportation difficulties, especially traffic jams. The construction of another bridge, located 4 km (2.49 mi) east of the existing one, has been prepared and was to start in 2009, and most of the necessary funds were to be secured by the end of 2008. Yet, political rivalries and technical difficulties prevented constructions to go on as planned. The construction of the new bridge began in spring 2011 and was completed on 4 July 2013.
The city's public transport system comprises five tram lines and about 40 bus routes, covering the city and some of the neighboring communities.
Toruń is situated at a major road junction, one of the most important in Poland. The A1 highway reaches Toruń, and a southern beltway surrounds the city. Besides these, the European route E75 and a number of domestic roads (numbered 10, 15, and 80) run through the city.
With three main railway stations (Toruń Główny, Toruń Miasto and Toruń Wschodni), the city is a major rail junction, with two important lines crossing there (Warszawa–Bydgoszcz and Wrocław–Olsztyn). Two other lines stem from Toruń, toward Malbork and Sierpc.
The rail connection with Bydgoszcz is run under a name "BiT City" as a "metropolitan rail". Its main purpose is to allow traveling between and within these cities using one ticket. A joint venture of Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Solec Kujawski and the voivodeship, it is considered as important in integrating Bydgoszcz-Toruń metropolitan area. A major modernization of BiT City railroute, as well as a purchase of completely new vehicles to serve the line, is planned for 2008 and 2009. Technically, it will allow to travel between Toruń-East and Bydgoszcz-Airport stations at a speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) in a time of approximately half an hour. In a few years' time "BiT City" will be integrated with local transportation systems of Toruń and Bydgoszcz, thus creating a uniform metropolitan transportation network - with all necessary funds having been secured in 2008.
Two bus depots serve to connect the city with other towns and cities in Poland.
As of 2008[update], a small sport airfield exists in Toruń; however, a modernization of the airport is seriously considered with a number of investors interested in it. Independently of this, Bydgoszcz Ignacy Jan Paderewski Airport, located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Toruń city centre, serves the whole Bydgoszcz-Toruń metropolitan area, with a number of regular flights to European cities.
Although a medium-sized city, Toruń is the site of headquarters of some of the largest and most influential companies in Poland, or at least of their subsidiaries. The official unemployment rate, as of September 2008, is 5.4%.
In 2006, construction of new plants owned by Sharp Corporation and other companies of mainly Japanese origin has started in the neighboring community of Łysomice - about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from city centre. The facilities under construction are located in a newly created special economic zone. As a result of cooperation of the companies mentioned above, a vast high-tech complex is to be constructed in the next few years, providing as many as 10,000 jobs (a prediction for 2010) at the cost of about 450 million euros. As of 2008[update], the creation of another special economic zone is being considered, this time inside city limits.
Thanks to its architectural heritage Toruń is visited by more than 1.5 million tourists a year (1.6 million in 2007). This makes tourism an important branch of the local economy, although time spent in the city by individual tourists or the number of hotels, which can serve them, are still not considered satisfactory. Major investments in renovation of the city's monuments, building new hotels (including high-standard ones), improvement in promotion, as well as launching new cultural and scientific events and facilities, give very good prospects for Toruń's tourism.
In recent years Toruń has been a site of intense building construction investments, mainly residential and in its transportation network. The latter has been possible partly due to the use of European Union funds assigned for new member states. Toruń city county generates by far the highest number of new dwellings built each year among all Kuyavian-Pomeranian counties, both relative to its population as well as in absolute values. It has led to almost complete rebuilding of some districts. As of 2008[update], many major constructions are either under development or are to be launched soon - the value of some of them exceeding 100 million euros. They include a new speedway stadium, major shopping and entertainment centres, a commercial complex popularly called a "New Centre of Toruń", a music theater, a centre of contemporary art, hotels, office buildings, facilities for the Nicolaus Copernicus University, roads and tram routes, sewage and fresh water delivery systems, residential projects, the possibility of a new bridge over the Vistula, and more. Construction of the A1 motorway and the BiT City fast metropolitan railway also directly affects the city. About 25,000 local firms are registered in Toruń.
Toruń has two drama theatres (Teatr im. Wilama Horzycy with three stages and Teatr Wiczy), two children's theatres (Baj Pomorski and Zaczarowany Świat), two music theatres (Mała Rewia, Studencki Teatr Tańca), and numerous other theatre groups. The city hosts, among others events, the international theatre festival, "Kontakt", annually in May
A building called Baj Pomorski has recently been completely reconstructed. It is now one of the most modern cultural facilities in the city, with its front elevation in the shape of a gigantic chest of drawers. It is located at the south-east edge of the Old Town. Toruń has two cinemas including a Cinema City, which has over 2,000 seats.
Over ten major museums document the history of Toruń and the region. Among others, the "House of Kopernik" and the accompanying museum commemorate Nicolaus Copernicus and his revolutionary work, the university museum reveals the history of the city's academic past.
The Tony Halik Travelers' Museum (Muzeum Podróżników im.Tony Halika) was established in 2003 after Elżbieta Dzikowska donated to citizens of Toruń a collection of objects from various countries and cultures following the death of her husband, famous explorer and writer Tony Halik.
The Centre of Contemporary Art (Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej - CSW) opened in June 2008 and is one of the most important cultural facilities of this kind in Poland. The modern building is located in the very centre of the city, adjacent to the Old Town. The Toruń Symphonic Orchestra (formerly the Toruń Chamber Orchestra) is well-rooted in the Toruń cultural landscape.
Toruń is home to a planetarium (located downtown) and an astronomical observatory (located in nearby community of Piwnice). The latter boasts the largest radio telescope in the Eastern part of Central Europe with a diameter of 32 m (104.99 ft), second only to the Effelsberg 100 m (328.08 ft) radio telescope.
Over thirty elementary and primary schools and over ten high schools make up the educational base of Toruń. Besides these, students can also attend a handful of private schools.
The largest institution of higher education in Toruń, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń serves over 40 thousand students and was founded in 1945, based on the Toruń Scientific Society, Stefan Batory University in Wilno, and Jan Kazimierz University in Lviv. The existence of a high-ranked and high-profiled university with so many students plays a great role the city's position and importance in general, as well as in creating an image of Toruń's streets and clubs filled with crowds of young people. It also has a serious influence on local economy.
Other public institutions of higher education:
There are also a number of private higher education facilities:
Six hospitals of various specializations provide medical service for Toruń itself, its surrounding area and to the region in general. The two largest of these hospitals, recently run by the voivodeship, are to be taken over by Nicolaus Copernicus University and run as its clinical units. At least one of them is to change its status in 2008, with the formal procedures being very advanced.
In addition, there are a number of other healthcare facilities in the city.
Honouring Toruń's sister relationship with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Bulwar Filadelfijski (Philadelphia Boulevard), a 2 km (1.2 mi) long street running mostly between Vistula River and walls of the Old Town and the boulevard itself, bears its name.
The Ślimak Getyński is one of the lanes connecting Piłsudski Bridge / John Paul II Avenue with Philadelphia Boulevard at their downtown interchange. It honours the relationship with Göttingen, its name derived from the street's half-circular shape (Polish word ślimak meaning "snail").
Gen. Elżbieta Zawacka Bridge
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Toruń.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article Thorn (town).|