Torun is small and thus easy to walk. It is full of remarkable architecture, with many restaurants, bars and cafes to add to your enjoyment. The buildings range from the brick structures daring from the 14th century Teutonic Knights to the Gothic to Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The town was not damaged in WW2, so the buildings are not newly rebuilt.
One of Toruń ‘s fabulous buildings in the small old town
Toruń is another of several Polish city members of the Hanseatic League. The prosperity led to the three main styles, Gothic (dating from 1200’s) in brick, Mannerism and Baroque. The city walls and the now ruined castle are from the Gothic period.
Torun old city walls
City Hall, Toruń , Gothic, 1274
The Cathedral of SS. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist (14th century) has some wonderful sculptures and paintings from the era, including a Moses and St. Mary Magdalene. The multiple altars are ourstanding.
Altars in the Cathedral
Copernicus was born here and, if you will allow just this one pun, the city revolves around him. There are two museums that deal with him at least in title, this statue in front of city hall, and lots of reproductions of famous portraits.
Ulica Szorka, Torun
While you wander about you are tempted by the lody – ice cream – which is very popular in this comparatively warm weather, with temperatures as high as 28c, 80f in generally partly cloud skies. Donuts are elaborately presented, a variety of calorie rich cakes. The city is most famous for its gingerbread, which fortunately for my waist line I do not like. There is very good cappuccino, espresso and macchiato (small cappuccino) — be careful about the latter as there is a small macchiato espresso and a the very large latte macchiato. There are waffles with real whipped cream and cherry jam. Gone are the pretzels, hard and soft, found in Cracow and the multitude of fruit stands and street markets from everywhere we have been. Remaining is the ever-present beer, with wine still an expensive alternative, and I hope you do not like sugar-free colas as they are harder to find if not impossible. Pierogies are everywhere in Poland so here as well, but I could not find latke, potato pancakes. Since our 1998 visit the Italians and Turks have moved in, so pizza and donor kebab are popular, as well as hamburgers even.
With our flat located within blocks of the Rynek (central square) we had the shortest possible commute. This turned out to be not the case in our next destination, the historical city of Poznan. On the other hand, we had two flights of these stairs:
I have long been an admirer of Lech Walesa. He was the head of Solidarity, having come to that position by way of his willingness to speak up for his fellow workers and take the jail time, periods of unemployment and other consequences. He was a father and a husband, so his actions were not easy for him nor for his wife and family. They helped develop Solidarity into a political movement with 9.5 million members at its peak, after having become the first non-government controlled trade union in the Soviet bloc. Solidarity helped bring down not only the Polish communist regime but helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. Lech maintains an office at the Solidarity Museum and at 72 still comes to work there.
Teutonic Knights built Malbork Castle in the 13th century. At that time Malbork was in Prussia, shifting in and out of Polish control, changing into Polish control in 1945. It is the largest castle in the world by the land area it covers and when built the largest brick castle in the world. Sitting along the Nogat River, it has been a Polish royal palace, later to become a Nazi fortification in the waning days of the Third Reich, subjecting it to Russian bombardment. Heavily damaged and afterwards faithfully restored, today you see a structure in fine condition and a great place to wander around, through narrow passages and steep winding staircases.
I’ve included some of the interesting artwork you find there. The walls were beautifully painted, judging by the remains. There are many interesting statutes and a few paintings.
There are 6 or 8 of these finely painted panels.
The castle also has a mill. Here is a pen and ink of the mechanism:
There’s an open air museum just outside Lublin containing houses, churches, barns and some bee hive structures unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Here are some pen and ink drawings from that visit. The setting is bucolic, with sloping meadows, wooden buildings on hilltops, a lake, a stream. You have a good view into the rural life style of area residents between 1800 and 1930. Some drawings and a water color from the museum:
Church at the Open Air Museum, Lublin
Bee Hives at the Open Air Museum, Lublin
House at the Open Air Museum, Lublin
Field and Stream, water color, 20 cm x 20 cm, 8″ x *” on Arches