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Torun History, Poland

Torun is a historic city and important economic center in Northern Poland. Due to its favorable location along Vistula River, Torun’s history can be traced back to antiquity, when the city area was inhabited by the Lusatian tribes.

Torun History – Teutonic Knights

Like most Polish cities from this part of the country, Torun was founded by Teutonic Knights. The original name of Torun was ‘Thorn’, and its founding fathers were two Teutonic knights named Herman von Salza and Herman Balk. The official birth date of the city is 28 December 1233, when the two knights signed the city charter. The Teutonic castle (whose ruins can still be visited today) built on the site of present Old Town in the 13th century was only to last till 1454, when it was destroyed by the city’s inhabitants who wanted to case away the Teutonic Order.

Torun History – Torun during Medieval Age

Torun history is closely related to the religious conflicts that took place in early Middle Ages. After their arrival in the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights were soon followed by other orders, like Dominican and Franciscan; but their dominance didn’t last long, as the town’s noblemen decided to join the Hanseatic League (a major trade union). In the first half of the 15th century, the influence of the Church was strongly shaken: Thorn was now in the hands of its gentry and tradesman and became a part of the Kingdom of Poland. Situated at the intersection of major trading routes, the city developed at a very fast rate: many of its beautiful churches and buildings were built in this period. The 16th century brought new religious conflicts: after adopting Protestantism in 1557, the city was somehow split in half with the arrival of Jesuits. This ideological war culminated in the 17th century with the Tumult of Thorn (as a consequence of these events, Prussia and Russia decided to guarantee the freedom of religion). Another important event took place in Torun in the seventh decade of the 15th century: Nicolaus Copernicus, the man who radically changed the perception of the universe, was born here in a rich merchant family.

Torun History – Torun in Modern Times

Across its many centuries of existence, Torun was constantly disputed between Prussia and Poland. During the first decades of the 18th century, Torun was the witness of a strong wave of Polish national awakening (although in most part of this century Torun was part of Prussia). The Treaty of Versailles reassigned Torun back to Poland, but nor for a long time: the Nazis took over the city in 1939. After the war, Torun gradually regained its economic status and identity. Today, the city is not only one of the most visited in Poland (although Torun’s attractions in terms of popularity cannot be compared to Krakow Sights or even Gdansk Sights), but it also holds one on the strongest economies.

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