Top Historic Sights in Toruń, Poland

Explore the historic highlights of Toruń

Town Hall

Located in the centre of the Old City Market Square, the monumental Old City Town Hall is one of the biggest and most magnificent town halls in Europe. It is a monument to Toruń"s glory as the former trade empire of Hansa. The construction began in 1274 and it was extended and rebuilt between 1391 and 1399 and extended again at the end of the 16th century. Today Town Hall hosts the District Museum, which is one ...
Founded: 1274 | Location: Toruń, Poland

Holy Spirit Church

Holy Spirit Church was was built in late Baroque style in the mid-18th century by the Protestants, who were dispossessed of St. Mary’s Church as a result of the Tumult of Toruń in 1724. The slender church tower was added in the end of the 19th century. Today the church is a university church affiliated with Nicolaus Copernicus University. The most finest details in the church are the mid-18th century Rococo hig ...
Founded: c. 1750 | Location: Toruń, Poland

Torun Cathedral

Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, since 1935 Minor Basilica, since 1992 the Cathedral of Toruń Diocese, is former main parish church of Old Town of Toruń. One of three Gothic churches of the town, built from brick, an aisled hall with a monumental west tower. The first church from the 13th century was a small hall without aisles and with polygonal presbytery. This was replaced by aisled ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Toruń, Poland

St. Mary's Church

The post-Franciscan Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, erected in the second half of the 14th century, is one of the most outstanding artistic and architectural achievements of sacral architecture in Poland. In the 14th century it was the highest hall church in Central Europe with the naves and aisles 26.8 metre high. The church provided inspiration for the extension of St. Johns’ Church in Toru ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Toruń, Poland

Torun Castle Ruins

In spring 1231 Teutonic Knights crossed river Vistula at the height of Nessau and established a fortress. On 28 December 1233, the Teutonic Knights Hermann von Salza and Hermann Balk signed the foundation charters for Thorn and Che³mno. The original document was lost in 1244. 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. Torun ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Toruñ, Poland

Medieval Town of Torun

Toruń is a small historic trading city that preserves to a remarkable extent its original street pattern and outstanding early buildings, providing an exceptionally complete picture of the medieval way of life. These buildings in Toruń represent the highest achievements of medieval architecture in brick. The unique spatial layout of Toruń has survived almost intact and provides valuable source material for the history ...
Founded: 1233 | Location: Toruń, Poland

St. James's Church

St. James"s church (often mistakenly called St Jacob"s), a basilica from the 14th century, with monumental wall paintings and Gothic stalls. The unique character of the church is determined by a myriad of decorations, detail styles and multicolour glazed brick. In the New Market Square, the church can be entered through the Gothic gate with a pillar and the Baroque figure of St. James, the patron.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Toruń, Poland

Dybów Castle Ruins

Castle Dybów or Dybowski Castle was built by Wladyslaw Jagiello in the years 1424-1428. With time, the castle was a settlement that was called Nieszawa. In 1431 Toruń destroyed the castle, but soon restored and the Teutonic Knights Castle in it judged his crew. After the Peace of Brest Kujawski castle with the left bank of the Vistula, he returned to Polish.
Founded: 1424-1428 | Location: Toruń, Poland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.