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Toruń ( , , , see also: other names) is a city in northern Polandmarker, on the Vistula River, with population over 207,190 as of 2006, making it the second-largest city of Kujawy-Pomerania Provincemarker, after Bydgoszczmarker. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. In 1997 it was added to UNESCOmarker's World Heritage List as a World Heritage Site.

Previously it was the capital of the Toruń Voivodeship (1975-98) and the Pomeranian Voivodeshipmarker (1921-45). Since 1999, Toruń has been a seat of the self-government of the Kujawy-Pomerania Provincemarker and, as such, is one of its two capitals (together with Bydgoszcz). The cities and neighboring counties form the Bydgoszcz-Toruń bipolar metropolitan area. In September 2004, Bydgoszcz Medical School joined Toruń's Nicolaus Copernicus University as its Collegium Medicum.


The first settlement in the vicinity is dated by archaeologists to 1100 BCE (Lusatian culture). During medieval times, in the 7th-13th centuries, it was the location of an old Polish settlement, at a crossing point of the river.

The Teutonic Knights built a castle in the vicinity of the Polish settlement in the years 1230-31. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Chełmnomarker. Named after the city this took place, the original document (lost in 1244) with the city rights was called Kulmer Handfeste, 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 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 was signed in the city in February 1411. In 1440, the gentry of Thorn formed the Prussian Confederation, and in 1454 rose with the Confederation against the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knightsmarker in the Thirteen Years' War. After almost 200 years of coexistence, New and Old Town amalgamated in 1454. The Teutonic castle was destroyed. The Thirteen Years' War ended in 1466 with the Second Peace of Thorn, in which the Teutonic Order ceded their control over Eastern Pomerania (Royal Prussia). Toruń became part of Kingdom of Poland.

The city adopted Protestantism in 1557 during the Protestant Reformation, while most Polish cities remained Roman Catholic. During the time of the mayor Heinrich Stroband (1586-1609), the city became centralised and its administrative power went into the hands of the city council. In 1595, Jesuits arrived in order to promote the Counter-Reformation, taking control of the Church of St. John. Protestant city officials tried to limit the influx of the Catholic population into the city, as Catholics (Jesuits and Dominican Order monks) already controlled most churches, leaving only St. Mary to the Protestant citizens.

In 1677, the Prussian historian and educator Christoph Hartknoch was invited to be director of the Torun Gymnasium, a post which he held until his death in 1687. Hartknoch wrote histories of Prussia, including the cities of Royal Prussia.

In the second half of the 17th century, tensions between Catholics and Protestants grew leading to events known as the Tumult of Thorn.In 1793, the city was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussiamarker following the Second Partition of Poland. In 1807, the city became part of the Duchy of Warsawmarker created by Napoleon and ruled by King Frederick Augustus I of Saxonymarker, although Prussia took control of it again after Napoleon's defeat in 1814. In 1870, French prisoners of war taken during the Franco-Prussian War built a chain of forts surrounding the town. In the following year, the city, along with the rest of Prussia, became part of the new German Empiremarker. During this period it became one of centers of resistance to Germanisation and Kulturkampf by Poles, who established a Polish-language newspaper called "Gazeta Toruńska". In 1875, a Polish Science Society was established and in 1884 a secret organisation dedicated to restoration of Poland.

According to the Treaty of Versailles signed after World War I in 1919, it was part of the Polish Corridor assigned to Polandmarker. Toruń became the capital of the then Pomeranian Voivodeship. In 1925, the Baltic Institute was established in the city, with the task of documenting Polish heritage in Pomerania. In general, the interwar period was a time of significant urban development in Toruń. Major investments were completed in areas like transportation (new streets, tramway lines and the Piłsudski Bridge), residential constructions (many new houses, particularly in Bydgoskie Przedmieście) and public buildings.

The city was annexed by Nazi Germany after the Invasion of Poland in 1939 and administered as part of Danzig-West Prussia. During World War II, the chain of forts were used by the Germans as POW camps, collectively known as Stalag XX-A. The city, escaped significant destruction during the war, and was liberated from the Nazis in 1945 by the Sovietmarker Red Army and, as before the war, became part of Poland. The remaining German population was expelled primarily to East Germanymarker between 1945 and 1947.

After World War II, the population increased more than twofold and industry developed significantly. However, one of the most important events of the post-war era was the founding of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in 1945. Over the years, it has become one of the better universities in Poland. Its existence has influenced the life of the city enormously, as well as its perception by non-locals. The University itself was founded by Polish professors of the University of Wilnomarker, who were forced to abandon their native city and move to post-1945 Poland.

Since 1989, when local and regional self-government was gradually reintroduced and the market economy set in, Toruń, like other cities in Poland, has undergone deep social and econonomic transformation. There is some debate among locals as to whether this time has been really spent as successfully as it should have been, but the fact is that Toruń has recently reclaimed its strong position as a regional leader, together with Bydgoszczmarker.


Early documents record the city's name as Thorun (1226, 1466), Turon, Turun, Toron, Thoron and Thorn.

Toruń was a royal city, subject to the kings of Poland, Latin documents and coins usually spelled it Thorun, Thorunium, civitas Thorunensis, or civitas Torunensis, and after the 15th century, the current Polish name Toruń.


  • It may come from the Polish word tor, which means "track (of the Vistula river)". Toruń would therefore mean "town on the track".
  • It may have been originally Tarnów, based on the Polish word tarnina, a kind of river plant. There are many cities in Poland with a similar derivationmarker.


  • Some people, such as Jan Miodek, claim that "Toruń" does not have any etymological meaning.
  • It may come from the personal name Toronmarker and mean "Toron's town".
  • from the Teutonic Castle of Toron in the Lebanon mountains

Main sights

Panorama of Toruń.
Gothic St George Guildhall in Toruń.

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.marker John the Evangelist and John the Baptistmarker, an aisled hall church built in the 14th century and extended in the 15th century; outstanding Gothic sculptures and paintings inside (Moses, St. Mary Magdalene, gravestone of Johann von Soest), Renaissance and Baroque epitaphs and altars (amongst them the epitaph of Copernicus from 1580)
    • St. Mary's church, a formerly Franciscan aisled hall built in the 14th century
    • St. Jacob's church, a basilica from the 14th century, with monumental wall paintings and Gothic stalls
  • The Old Town Hall, begun in 1274, extended and rebuilt between 1391 and 1399, and extended at the end of the 16th century; one of the most monumental town halls in Central Europe
  • City fortifications, begun in the 13th century, extended between the 14th and 15th centuries, mostly demolished in the 19th century, but partially preserved with a few city gates and watchtowers (among them the so-called Leaning Tower) from the Vistula side. See also: Toruń Fortress
  • 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 ( ), 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

Toruń, unlike many other historic cities in Poland, avoided significant destruction during World War II. In particular, the Old Town was left intact, so all its important monuments of architecture are original, 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.


View of Toruń Old Town Square at dusk.

The most recent statistics show a decrease in the population of the city, to 208,007 at the end of 2006. 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 80s, located between the central and easternmost districts; their total population is about 70,000.

Toruń and Bydgoszczmarker together make up a bipolar metroplex which, including those cities' counties and a number of smaller towns, may 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).

Some groups of Japanese, Ukrainian and Vietnamese people live in Toruń now. The Japanese diaspora is the largest visible minority in the city, it stems from the management of businesses opened in recent years by Japanese companies such as Sharp. In additional to Japanese managers, engineers, translators and their families there are Japanese language teachers working at the local university and language schools, and people who have married locals and stayed in Toruń.


The transportation 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. A construction of another bridge, located 4 km east of the existing one, has been prepared and will start in 2009; as of December 2008, most of the necessary funds have been already secured.

The mass transit system is composed of 5 tram lines and about 40 bus lines, covering the city and some of the neighbouring 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 Głównymarker, Toruń Miasto and Toruń Wschodni), the city is a major rail junction, with two important lines crossing there (WarszawamarkerBydgoszczmarker and WrocławmarkerOlsztynmarker). Two other lines stem from Toruń, toward Malborkmarker and Sierpcmarker.

The rail connection with Bydgoszczmarker 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, Bydgoszczmarker, Solec Kujawskimarker 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 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.

Since September 2008, the "one-ticket" solution has been introduced also as regards a rail connection with Włocławekmarker, as a "regional ticket". The same is planned for connection with Grudziądzmarker.

Two bus depots serve to connect the city with other towns and cities in Poland.

As of 2008, 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-Szwederowo airport, located about 50 km from Toruń city center, 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, a construction of new plants owned by Sharp Corporation and other companies of mainly Japanese origin has started in a neighboring community of Łysomicemarker (about 10 km from city center). The facilities under construction are located in a newly-created special economical area. As a result of cooperation of the companies mentioned above, a vast high-tech complex is to be constructed in the next few years' time, providing as many as 10,000 jobs (a prediction for 2010) at the cost of about 450 million euros. As of 2008, the creation of another special economic area 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, 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 centers, a commercial complex popularly called a "New Center of Toruń", a music theater, a center 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 effects 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 a number of 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 Center 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 center 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 equipped with 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 32m, second only to the Effelsbergmarker 100m radio telescope.

Toruń is well-known for Toruń gingerbread, a type of pierniki often made in elaborate moulds.


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 Wilnomarker, and Jan Kazimierz University in Lvov. 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:
  • Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne (a section of the Theological Faculty of the Nicolaus Copernicus University)
  • College of English - Nauczycielskie Kolegium Języków Obcych (affiliated to the Nicolaus Copernicus University)
  • College of Fashion (Kolegium Mody)

There are also a number of private higher education facilities:


Five 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.


Sports clubs

Notable residents

International relations

The twin cities of Torun

Twin towns — Sister cities

Toruń is twinned with:
Bulwar Filadelfijski (Philadelphia Boulevard), both a 2 km long street running mostly between Vistula River and walls of the Old Town, and the boulevard itself (bearing the same name), honours sister relationship with Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker.

Ślimak Getyński (Goettingen Helix, German: Goettingen Schnecke) 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").

National parliament deputies

European Parliament deputies (recent)

MEPs elected from Kuyavian-Pomeranian constituency



File:Torun sw Janow from Zeglarska Str.jpg|Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist and St. John the EvangelistmarkerFile:Torun ratusz corr.jpg|City HallFile:Im dorozkaszeroka.jpg|Old TownFile:Torun Katedra Janow2.JPG|View from Pilsudski bridgeFile:Kosciol sw. Jakuba w Toruniu.jpg|St. Jacob's ChurchFile:Dachy zsamolotu4.jpg|Bridge over the VistulaFile:Torun NMP witraz prezbiterium wsch 01.jpg|St. Mary's ChurchFile:Torun07ViewOfTown.jpg|New Town, Królowej Jadwigi St.


  1. Hypothetical reconstruction of a Lusatian culture settlement, built using bronze age tools: Wola Radziszowska, Poland, part of study by scientists from the Jagiellonian University’s Institute Of Archaeology.
  2. Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN Warsaw 1976
  3. The Teutonic Knights - the founders of Thorn - The foundation charter for Thorn was signed on 28th December 1233 by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Herman von Salza and the National Master for Prussia and the Slavonic Lands Herman Balka. In that way Thorn was founded by the Teutonic Order and managed by the Knights until 1454 -
  4. Max Töppen Historisch-comparative Geographie von Preussen: Nach den Quellen, namentlich auch archivalischen, Published by J. Perthes, 1858 [1] PDF

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