Copernicus, gingerbreads, the Gothic Old Town inscribed on the UNESCO list – these are just a few of the attractions that draw tourists to Toruń. A city built at the bank of Vistula river, where ach street is another reminder of history that goes back hundreds of years. Toruń is a perfect place for a city break. Confirmed by kids as well as adults! We all had fun. So what’s there to see and how much time do you need for Toruń?
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
Poland lays in a moderate climate with four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring seems to be the best season to visit cities. It’s not that hot and crowded like in summer season. September, October and early November are best for colorful parks, gardens or mountains. And from mid November till March it may be cold, gloomy and it’s getting dark real soon.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED FOR TORUŃ?
In order to see just the main points in Toruń, few hours is enough. If you want to visit at least Copernicus house or any museum, reserve at least one full day. Obviously the longer you can stay the better. You’ll get to know the city better
WHAT WITH THE GINGERBREAD?
One might venture to say that it was gingerbread that made medieval Toruń so powerful. The whole Europe knew about the mysterious treat made from even more mysterious dough, but the secret of making gingerbread belonged exclusively to the bakers of Toruń. Consisting of flour, honey and precious spices(brought to Toruń in the XIV century), gingerbread dough matured in the cellars of Toruń and was often passed down as an inheritance from generation to generation.
Gingerbread was often served as gifts for the most important figures of the time. For example, Tsarina Catherine II got a gingerbread 2 m by 30 cm. This is the way inhabitants of Toruń want to make an impression on somebody.
Let’s explore the city.
In one of the corners of the Old Town Square in Toruń, there is a statue of a dog. It’s Filuś, who is waiting for his master, Professor Filutek – a famous former animated scholar whose adventures could be found on the pages of Przekrój magazine. The sculpture was created in order to commemorate Torun’s resident Zbigniew Lengren.
Legend has it that stroking Filus’s ear brings good luck in life, while his tail brings good luck in love.
This is a must-see when in Toruń. The city is called Copernicus’ City, therefore noone should forget about the achievements of the famous astronomer and the revolution he caused. You can learn a lot about his discoveries in Toruń’s Planetarium, located on Franciszkańska Street. On a dome with a diameter of 15 metres, you can watch spherical presentations about the cosmos, including the construction of the Universe, the mysteries of the planets and galaxies or the popular star constellations. But that’s not everything In the adjacent Geode, there is an interactive exhibition called: Earth as a Planet. It shows magnetic fields, earthquakes, convection, the Earth’s atmosphere, the Coriolis effect and many more. The Toruń Planetarium has been operating in the city since 1994.
This building is one of the largest of its kind in Poland. With its 40 meter high tower, town hall is one of the symbols of Toruń. It’s dating back to 13th century. It is one of the finest examples of medieval bourgeois architecture.
There is an interesting legend connected with the Town Hall stating that the building was built in the likeness of a calendar. One tower represents one year, four gates correspond to the four seasons, twelve large rooms equal the number of months, and there are as many windows as there are days in the year.
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS SCULPTURE
You certainly know this frame – the tall tower in the background and the Nicolaus Copernicus monument in the foreground. This is one of the most photographed places in Toruń. The monument to the great astronomer was unveiled in 1853 and decorated with the inscription ‘Nicolaus Copernicus Thorunensis. Terrae motor, Solis Caelique stator’, which means ‘Nicolaus Copernicus Torunian. He moved the Earth, held back the Sun and the Sky’. Be sure to take a photo with Nicolaus.
OLD TOWN SQUARE
It’s where the Town Hall is situated, but here you can also find the Nicolaus Copernicus’s sculpture, Artus Court, the Church of the Holy Spirit or the decorative Tenement House Under the Star.
The well with the statue of the Flisak surrounded by eight frogs is located in the western part of the Staromiejski square. Legend has it that Toruń was plagued with frogs, and the city was saved by Iwo and the sound of his fiddle that helped to lead the frogs out of the city to the Mokre district, where they settled in the wetlands.
TIP: To make a wish come true, just stroke one of the frogs.
MUSEUMS OF GINGERBREAD
Toruń’s gingerbread was once considered to be the best delicacy in the whole of Poland. It used to be appreciated not only for its unique, spicy flavour, but also for the beautiful decorations that have appeared on it since medieval times. In the museum you have the possibility to learn about the traditional way of preparing gingerbread, and at the same time travel back in time. The museum can be found at No. 9 Rabiańska Street.
Another place where you will encounter an intense gingerbread smell is the Museum of Toruń Gingerbread – a branch of the District Museum in Toruń. Located at 4 Strumykowa Street, the 19th-century gingerbread factory houses an extensive exhibition on the history of Toruń’s gingerbread production. The exhibition is interactive and also suitable for children. Here you will also have the opportunity to prepare a sweet gift.
THE NICOLAUS COPERNICUS HOUSE
The Nicolaus Copernicus House is a complex of two late-Gothic townhouses located in the Old Town. It is likely to be a birthplace of the most famous astronomer in the history of Poland. It currently houses a museum with a modern exhibition, where visitors can learn a lot of interesting information about Nicolaus Copernicus, his life and scientific achievements. You can also find out what life was like in Copernicus’ time.
Currently under construction, but still permitted to walk on. It’s for those, who want to see Toruń from a different perspective. You may either go through 2 kilometer long “promenade” or choose a boat cruise. The boulevard is well known to those interested in Polish cinematography. It was here that scenes for the film “The Cruise” were shot, which has become one of the cult works in the history of Polish film.
The defence tower dates back to medieval times. It’s 15 meters tall and deviates from the vertical by less than 1.5 metres. This tower is a valuable reminder of the city’s former defence system, and its characteristic inclination from the vertical has made it one of the city’s most popular attractions. Legends may tell you different stories why the tower is leaning, but the truth is that building on marshy ground can lead to what we see today. You may do yourself a test: Stand with your back to the tower, at the point where the tilt of the tower is the greatest, and, as close as possible to the wall, stand like this for at least three seconds. Those who succeed in doing so are honest people. It was believed that the crooked tower was built by the dishonest Teutonic Knights, that’s why everyone visiting Toruń can test their honesty now.
Toruń’s impressive medieval urban complex is only a small part of the city’s former power. Out of the 12 city gates, only 3 remain today, out of as many as 54 defensive towers only 9, and the city walls, stretching for 3 kilometres, are today less than a kilometre long. The reason is obvious – warfare in various eras, including the Swedish Deluge, which was devastating for the city.
RUINS OF THE CRUSADERS CASTLE
70 years ago, the site was a rubbish dump. It was thanks to archeologists, who spent 10 years recovering the historic teutonic Castle that we can visit the ruins today. The ruins are inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Old Town.
Admission to the Teutonic castle ruins is paid – in 2023, a normal ticket cost 20 PLN, and a discounted one 12 PLN. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance to the castle ruins on Przedzamcze Street.
Reserve around 30 minutes to 1 hour for sightseeing. Don’t forget to look inside every corner and enter inside where possible, there’re interesting facts waiting for you.
When walking along Przedzamcze Street, look for the ceramic figure of the Toruń’s Dragon. It refers to alleged events from the 18th century, when a two-metre-high, fire-breathing monster is said to have visited the city twice.
ATTRACTION FOR KIDS
Toruń didn’t forget about the youngest one. Let’s start with the gingerbread, which kids adore. Not to mention the gingerbread workshops, where kids can leran how to make one. In addition, the city center is quite compact and it’s not very demanding for them to walk it through. There’re also two playgrounds around the center. One, close to the ruins of the castle: between Podmurna and Przedzamcze streets. The other one called the gingerbread’s town. Entrance from Podmurna street, in front of the Elżbieta Zawacka’s monument.
During weekend zones A and B are free of charge. During weekdays you need to pay for every hour from 8 am. till 6 pm. Parking in the Old Town zone called “Śródmieście” is charged till Saturday, only Sunday is free.