- Travel Topics
The following is a guest post by Anna from Anna Everywhere.
I have to admit that when I got the opportunity to study in Torun I felt scared and wondered whether or not I would like it because I spent most of my life living in big cities. To my surprise, Torun appeared somehow magical and despite its small size, it can offer a lot to both tourists and those seeking to live there.
The name of the city literally means ‘so collapse’ and comes from an old legend. In the14th century, a tower was built in Torun and due to its poor foundation,it was built to substantially lean at an angle. According to the local legend, when the tower was about to collapse it complained to the river Vistula. The river answered the tower: ‘then so collapse’ and this is how the name Torun came about.
Torun is known for three reasons. One is of course being the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. Since 1945, the university in Torun has been named after him. While Torun is inhabited mostly by students, tourists can enjoy themselves as well. They can visit his house and find out about his discoveries at the Planetarium. His statue, located in the Main Square of the town, has become the most popular place to meet your friends before heading out to the bars or a party.
The second reason for Torun’s fame is its delicious pierniki or gingerbreads. Not surprisingly, their popularity has led to their being sold throughout Poland. However, in Torun tourists can make their own pierniki.
Radio Maryja is the last (in)famous (in this case) thing associated with Torun. This socially controversial radio station led by Father Director Rydzyk spreads its political thoughts through mass broadcasting, mixing politics and the Catholic faith.
The Old Town of Torun is still very medieval because Torun avoided bombardment during the Second World War. In the mid 13th century, the Teutonic Knights (The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, also called Order of the Cross) built their castle in the old town. As a result, the architecture of Torun is absolutely precious.
The focal point of the Main Square is the imposing three story Town Hall with its Gothic tower, which at 138 ft high offers stunning views of the surroundings and the Vistula river.
Although the overall view is impressive, Torun is a town of details. A famous donkey sculpture attracts tourists who find it incredibly adorable and love to sit on it. This statue is actually a recreation of an old wooden medieval donkey that once stood in exactly the same place in order to punish criminals. The straps on the donkey attached to a sharp metal rod along its back. Criminals were seated and tied to the donkey and flogged as punishment for their crimes.
Another interesting animal statue is the Fountain of the Raftsman and the Frogs . A legend states that when the city was infested by a plague of frogs, a raftsman managed to get rid of them simply by playing his violin.
One cannot talk about Torun without mentioning its excellent bars and restaurants. Because the space here is limited I’m only going to mention one of each and I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. In the Main Square it’s impossible not to stop by Manekin – Torun’s famous crepe house. It serves extremely tasty, affordable and huge crepes with more than more than 50 fillings to choose from. It also serves famous Polish soups in edible bread bowls. I always loved that the toilet has a huge bunny staring at you from the ceiling.
After you meet your friends in front of the Copernicus statue you should head to one of the bars. My personal favorite is student bar Kadr (English: film frame), filled with old movie posters and film strips hanging from the ceiling.
Anna Lysakowska is a blogger, editor and translator. She has visited more than 45 countries and lived in 7, including Mexico City, Boston, London, Cape Town, Florence and Leiden. She studied journalism at Harvard, international law at Oxford Brookes and obtained her Masters in Latin American Studies from Leiden University. Since 2013 she has been residing in the Netherlands where she works at a marketing company, but this doesn’t stop her from traveling. Visit her blog at Anna Everywhere!