Toruń - get gothic

Toruń is famous for the biggest number, after Kraków, of authentic works of Gothic art and architecture in Poland. Gothic style is the most distinctive feature of the city. Thus the official promoting motto: Toruń - get gothic.

Toruń was founded in the medieval times (the Foundation Charter was signed in 1233). Throughout the dramatic history of Poland, the city was fortunately saved from the considerable destruction. For that reason the city is abundant in monuments, many of which date back to the medieval period. Additionally, the significant number of the monuments was erected in accordance with the Gothic canon.



The authenticity of the medieval and Gothic skyline of Toruń was one of the arguments supporting the decision to add Toruń to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites on 4th December 1997. In the document written by local scientists, which was the basic part of the nomination to include Toruń to the List of World Heritage Sites, the Medieval and Gothic legacy was strongly pointed out in the following way:

  • In Toruń, there were erected numerous medieval structures, many of which have been preserved to present times. All the buildings represent the magnificent achievements of brick Gothic architecture in Europe.
  • Preserved residential buildings are the biggest and the best-maintained examples of Gothic residential architecture in Northern Europe.
  • The unique spatial arrangement, preserved in a condition close to the original one, is a valuable source of historical evidence for the development of medieval cities in Europe. 
  • The Old Town Hall assembles in inimitable way judicial, administrative and commercial functions.
  • Toruń Old Town Unit combines the features of a riverside port city and a double city (the Old and New Town) with the characteristic of a fortress.
  • In Toruń, regardless of its degree of independence, one can see the noticeable influence of the leading European art centres, such as Brugia, Gandava, and Lubeka. This fact is thought of as evidence for the existence of the cultural commonwealth of Hanseatic Towns.

In the Middle Ages Toruń witnessed many historic events. This city took part in the process of Christianisation and colonisation of Prussia, was the main intermediary in the Hanseatic Commerce with Eastern Europe, became the major centre of creating the sense of townspeople’s identity, and a place of signing the Toruń Treaty in 1466.

The report by a Lithuanian professor Jonas Glemza, who paid an expert visit to Toruń in October 1996, confirms the extraordinary high standard of Toruń Old Town. Professor’s opinions concerning the subject of nomination and remarks about the condition of the city became the basis for the final decision made by UNESCO Committee in Nepal on 4th December 1997. The conclusions drawn by professor Glemza are the list of reasons why Toruń became the worldwide cultural property. The following are the most important remarks by professor Glemza:

  • The valuable architecture of the historical city - medieval churches, the Town Hall- represent the masterpieces of human craftsmanship genius. They meet all the requirements of medieval system of fortification (walls, gates, the castle ruins, the location of the Old and New Town).
  • Toruń has been placed on a list of the seven historical centres in Poland.
  • The Old and New Town are part of the nomination (both are the clear examples of medieval arrangement of town), so are the ruins of the Teutonic Knights’ Castle.
  • The criteria for the nomination include: the history of the medieval city, its particular scientific developments, and the significance of the city for the Province of Pomerania.
  • Toruń is an excellent example of a medieval river port, which used to connect Poland, Germany, Prussia, Scandinavia, and Lithuania.
  • In the Old and New Town districts many authentic valuable Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings have been well preserved.
  • Toruń has also a valuable double-ring system of town fortifications, erected by Prussians- a 19th century monument of a defensive architecture.
  • Among other cities of the Hanseatic League, Toruń is a unique place, because here Nicolas Copernicus, one of the greatest scientists of all times, was born.

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