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Toruń on the UNESCO World Heritage list


On the 4th of December, 1997, during the 21st plenary session of the Committee of the World Heritage UNESCO in Naples, the Old Town Complex of Toruń was inscribed on the List of the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

What was the story of the registration like.

The efforts to inscribe Toruń on the UNESCO World Heritage List dates back to the year 1989, when on the initiative of Pax, a Public Committee working on the inscription of the Old Town in Toruń when the list came into existence. Prof. Sławomir Kalembka became chairman of this committee.
On the 1st of March, 1989 a session on "The committee of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and rules of conduct with reference to the goods of culture and nature qualified for the registration on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List ".

At the meeting organized and conducted by the contemporary president of Toruń, Dr. Jerzy Wieczorek, on the 23rd of October, 1991, representatives of artistic circles and representatives of the City Council of Toruń, acknowledged the action as purposeful.

In the years to follow, not the Committee, but the President of the City of Toruń, Dr. Jerzy Wieczorek, and Prof. Marian Arszyński, as well as the Municipal Conservation Officer, Zbigniew Nawrocki touched upon this matter at the meetings with the General Conservation Officer and with the representatives of the Department of Culture and Arts. During the talks it was decided that the authorities of Toruń would officially put forward to the Minister of Culture and Arts the motion to make the effort by the Government of the Republic of Poland to inscribe Toruń on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List and would prepare materials indispensable as an enclosure for the application. On the 15th of April, 1996, the Municipal Office in Toruń and Nicholas Copernicus University concluded an agreement for the carrying out of a scientific-research thesis entitled "Descriptive-analytical, cartographic and photographic documentation for the motion of inscription of the city of Toruń on the World Cultural Heritage List " in the Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art. Completion of this project was assigned to a team comprising: Prof. Jan Tajchman -supervision and organization; Prof. Marian Arszyński - conception, text and editing; Zbigniew Nawrocki - consultation in the field of preservation issues.

In October of 1996, as a result of the Polish Government’s proposal, Torun went onto UNESCO to be inscribed on the List. A representative of the Committee of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, Prof. Dr. Architect Jonas Glemża, Undersecretary of Culture in Lithuania, Head of the Department of Culture in the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, and member of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee, arrived in Toruń and participated in the session of the City Council. He was delegated to Toruń by the Committee to check the conformity of the actual state of affairs with the information contained in the documentation enclosed with the motion. His assessment of Toruń was favourable.

The registration ensued during the 21st plenary session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Naples, which took place between 4 and 6 December, 1997. The vote was conducted on 4 December (this date is recognised as the date of the inscription), and the certificate confirming the registration of Toruń on the List has the date 6 December 1997, that is the date of the end of the plenary session proceedings.

On 4 and 5 June 1998, the main ceremonies connected with this event took place in Toruń. The contemporary Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, Prof. Jerzy Buzek, assumed patronage of the festivities.

On 5 June, 1998, during a solemn session of the City Council of Toruń in the Sala Mieszczańska of the Town Hall a document confirming the inscription of Toruń on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List of the was officially presented to the municipal authorities of Toruń. A representative of the Centre of World Heritage, Peter Strasser, delivered the certificate.

The day before the solemn session of the City Council, within the ceremonies, commemorative medals, cast in bronze especially for this occasion, and statuettes of the Crest of Toruń were handed. They were granted to people who contributed to the registration of Toruń on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as to those who brought in a significant scientific input into the renovation of the Old town of Toruń.

Statuettes were awarded to:

  • Dr. Bernd von Droste zu Hülshoff (Head of the Centre of the World Heritage)
  • Prof. Jonas Glemźa
  • and Dr. Henry Cleere.

Medals were awarded to:

  • Prof. dr. hab. Marian Arszynski
  • Prof. dr. hab. Eng. Architect Jan Tajchman
  • Dr. Jerzy Wieczorek
  • Prof. dr. hab. Sławomir Kalembka
  • Prof. dr. hab. Bohdan Rymaszewski
  • Jan Zobolowicz
  • Janina Mazurkiewicz
  • Zofia Wolniewicz
  • Stanisław Miklaszewski
  • Zbigniew Nawrocki

To official ceremonies were accompanied by cultural events and picnics. A great ending of the ceremony was a fire-works show on the Philadelphia Boulevard.