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7. Medieval Town of Toruń (1997)
 

The burghers' houses of Toruń form the biggest and the best preserved complex of gothic dwelling architecture in northern Europe. A great number of them became a main source of inspiration and established a standard for many very original types of constructions and exerted a fundamental influence on the evolution of dwelling art building, in many later founded towns of that region, as well as in the adjoining countries. The urban and architectural values of the mediaeval town of Toruń - one of the most beautiful historic centers in Europe, are additionally enriched by the fact of its close relationship to the surrounding landscape of a great esthetical beauty. As so, it vividly illustrates a medieval setting, which has evolved organically and harmoniously with the nature over time.

 

The mediaeval historic center of Toruń is composed by 3 directly adjoining mediaeval settlements units:

  • the Old Town - located in the western part of the urban complex,
  • the New Town - placed in its easter part,
  • and the Teutonic Castle - which integrates both towns.

The Complex has a form of an irregular pentagon, prolonged along the east-west axis.

 

The Teutonic Knights built a castle there in the years 1230-31. The town was granted city rights by the Polish Crown in 1233. In 1236 it was relocated to the present site of the Old Town. In 1264 the nearby New Town was founded. In 1280, the city (actually both cities) joined the mercantile Hanseatic League soon turned into an important medieval trade centre.

The First Peace of Thorn ending the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War (1409-1411) was signed in the city in February 1411. In 1440 the gentry of Thorn formed the Prussian Confederation and rose with the Confederation against the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights in 1454. Also, after almost 200 years of coexistence, New and Old Town amalgamated in 1454. The resulting Thirteen Years' War ended in 1466 with the Second Peace of Thorn, in which the Teutonic Order ceded their control over western Prussia (Royal Prussia). Thorn/Toruń became an autonomous subject under the protectorate of the Kingdom of Poland.

 

Listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997, Toruń has many monuments of architecture beginning from the Middle Ages, including 200 military structures. 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:

·         Gothic churches: (the Cathedral of Ss. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, St. Mary's church, St. Jacob's church)

·         The Old Town Hall of 13th-16th cent. - one of the most monumental town halls in Central Europe

·         City fortifications of 13th-15th cent.

·         A Gothic house from the 15th  century, where Copernicus was allegedly born (now a museum)

·         Ruins of the Teutonic Knights' castle from the 13th century

·         The House Under the Star (Polish: Dom Pod Gwiazdą), previously Gothic, briefly owned by Filip Callimachus, then rebuilt in the 16th century and in 1697, with a richly decorated stucco facade and wooden spiral stairs

·         Toruń has the largest number of preserved Gothic houses in Poland, many with Gothic wall paintings or wooden beam ceilings from the 16th  to the 18th centuries





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