date: 23.04.2024 current local time in Toruń:
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  Suggested Reading:
Toruń UNESCO World Heritage here
777 years of Toruń municipal rights here
Historical Architecture of Toruń here
Teutonic Order here
History of Toruń
Major dates in the history of Toruń
Owing to its political, economic and cultural history, Toruń ranks among the most fascinating cities in Europe. It owes its origins, as well as the formation of the political system of the future Great City of Prussia, to the 223-year rule of the Teutonic Order in this area. Seeking political and economic independence, however, Toruń’s residents turned to the Polish kings. The incorporation of the city into the Kingdom of Poland in the mid-fifteenth century brought about another peak of Toruń’s prosperity.

Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1231 and granted its charter of incorporation under the ‘Law of Chełmno’ two years later, Toruń remained under the Teutonic rule for over two centuries, i.e. until the outbreak of the Thirteen Years’ War between Poland and The Teutonic Order in 1454.

It was in Toruń that the Teutonic Knights established their first fortified base. It was in Toruń that the first Teutonic castle was built, the seat of Komtur (the Commander), different from other castles built later in Poland in respect of its layout. It was from Toruń that the Teutonic Knights began their conquest of pagan Prussia and gradually built a powerful monastic state. In 1243, in the Franciscan monastery in Toruń a synod was held, where a papal bull on establishing four new dioceses in the area was issued. Until the end of the fourteenth century, the city, with a population of 13 thousand, was the biggest and the most important inland Hanseatic port, the major commercial centre for trade between Poland and overseas countries, and a cultural and artistic centre of the Teutonic state. Later, the roles were taken over by Gdańsk. Old Toruń, by virtue of its seniority and leading position in the Hanseatic League, always had precedence over all Prussian cities in Pomerania, and its Old City Hall housed the archives of the Prussian Quarter. All the monumental and most important historic buildings date back to this period, including the Gothic Old City Town Hall, three large Gothic churches, fortifications (walls, towers, gates) and the largest complex of burgher architecture in Poland, comprising dozens of Gothic townsmen's residences with a typical interior layout. (Today, the layout of a Hanseatic tenement building with storage facilities is best illustrated by Copernicus’ House).
The dynamic growth of the city led to establishing another urban area, the New City of Toruń, as early as 1264. Moreover, numerous suburbs developed rapidly, the biggest of which, known as Chełmińskie Suburb, was located outside Chełmińska Gate, north of the Old City of Toruń. In the suburb, a suburban court and three Gothic churches were located, including St. George’s Church with the leprosarium, which was the oldest and biggest of them, St. Laurence’s Church and the Church of the Holy Cross. None of the churches survived, the first two being pulled down in the nineteenth century by the German authorities.

Although Toruń played one of the main economic and political roles in the Teutonic state, its rich residents, largely German, distanced themselves from the Teutonic Knights’ military undertakings from the very beginning and sought the protection of the Polish kings. Their membership in the Prussian League of 1440, the confederation of nobility and cities in which Toruń played a significant role, was the manifestation of their allegiance. It was the League’s Secret Council residing in Toruń that renounced its allegiance to the Teutonic Order in 1454 and sent the Prussian delegation to Krakow to announce the incorporation of Royal Prussia into the Kingdom of Poland, which in consequence led to the Thirteen Years’ War between Poland and the Teutonic Knights.
During the war, started by the attack on the Teutonic castle, Toruń was the headquarters of the Prussians and the Polish monarch, serving as the base for military operations. In effect, numerous foreign delegations led by papal legates visited Toruń to take on mediation roles. The affluent city for long continued to support the war financially, which resulted in the revolt by the burghers against the burden of allegedly excessive taxation in 1456. The riot was suppressed by the City Council (68 people were beheaded). The power of medieval Toruń was reflected in the amount of money the city allocated for military purposes. The amount spent on the war with the Teutonic Order reached 200,000 ‘grzywnas’ (a monetary unit used in Poland in the Middle Ages), which equalled the 80-year annual income of the capital city of Krakow and the 270-year annual income of Poznań!

The war concluded in 1466 with the Second Treaty of Toruń (>>) which, among other things, put an end to the former Teutonic state; its western part formed so-called Royal Prussia (including Toruń, Gdańsk, Elbląg and Malbork), an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Poland with its own governing body, the Prussian Council (later the Prussian Diet). The province had its own currency minted since 1528 in the royal mint in Toruń, its own Treasury, tax system, jurisdiction, coat of arms and seal. Since then, Toruń, which had its former privileges confirmed and a number of new ones and a royal title granted by King Casimir Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk), became one of the three so-called Great Cities of Prussia and, beside Gdańsk and Elbląg, the most affluent city in the Polish lands, exceptional status – a large autonomy and a number of legal and political privileges enjoying. For this reason Toruń was referred to as the ‘independent burghers’ republic’. As the Prussian Council members, the patricians of Gdańsk and Toruń had the right to participate in the diets on a par with the Polish nobility. Three of the diets were held in Toruń (only the representatives of the privileged cities of Krakow, Poznań, Gdańsk, Vilnius and Toruń had the right to vote during the meetings).
In 1473, the city saw the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus

Toruń's ambition to achieve prestige was further fulfilled in 1506, when King Alexander Jagiellon (Aleksander Jagiellończyk) authorised the City Council to use the red seal, which was considered the privilege of the monarchs. In Toruń, it was regarded as an apparent gesture of appreciation and goodwill.

Long after the Second Treaty of Toruń (1466), the city was frequently visited by the Polish kings, residing in the Royal Chamber of the Old City Town Hall, also with regard to the question of the Teutonic Order. The Jagiellonian dynasty took a particular liking to the city, and Casimir Jagiellon alone visited it sixteen times. In 1501, King John I Albert (Jan Olbracht) died during his stay in Toruń and his heart was laid in Toruń’s cathedral. Beside the obvious benefits of Toruń’s good relations with Krakow, the royal visits were beneficial for the city also in terms of prestige and propaganda; for the affluent burghers, whose fortunes thrived, the visits provided the occasion to boast their splendour; thus, all the classes paraded before their monarch.

At the turn of the seventeenth century, the city, called then Queen of the Vistula, enjoyed its golden age for the second time in history. Once more, the city was teeming with merchants and wanderers, and one could hear the babel of foreign tongues emanating from the streets. Owing to three big international fairs organised under the privilege granted by King Casimir Jagiellon in 1472, as well as the city’s extensive patrimony, Toruń ranked among the richest and most influential trade and art centres again. Kings were frequent guests in the city, which remodelled its buildings according to the then prevailing architectural fashions. The churches were filled with works of art by the most eminent artists and the burghers entertained artists, politicians and thinkers. Guild artists, who formed as many as fifty three guilds in the mid-seventeenth century, did not merely fulfil the local needs – their masterpieces went to Prussia and the rest of Poland.

In 1558, Toruń’s residents enjoyed religious liberty proclaimed by King Sigismund-Augustus (Zygmunt August), which sealed the victory of the Reformation in the city, now a large and important Protestant centre. The Protestants began to engage in cultural activities. The famous Protestant Academic Gymnasium enjoyed the reputation of one of the best at the time, attracting students and scholars from the whole of central Europe. In 1595, Burgomaster Heinrich Stroband put forward the initiative of establishing a university.
It was the municipal gymnasium, founded in 1568 and converted into the Academic Gymnasium in 1594, that stimulated the cultural and academic life. The gymnasium boasted a number of renowned professors, who might easily win the recognition by other reputable universities. The building housed a library, which, according to the then sources, was a match for the most famous and biggest libraries in Europe; there was a printing house, dating back to 1581 (the previous one founded in 1568), in which numerous academic publications were printed including the first academic journal in the world, Institutio Literata, as well as the so-called ‘Ekonomia’, a dormitory.
The Academic Gymnasium competed with the rival Counter-Reformation Jesuit College, established in 1605.

Besides, Toruń with its assets was a well-developed industrial city. Some of its suburban industrial centres, such as those in Lubicz, Przysiek and Kaszownik, offered a number of products and services. There were, for example, breweries, paper mills, distilleries, tanneries, timber mills, fuller mills, copper forges, shipyards, etc. In the mid-seventeenth century, Toruń was nearly as big as the capital, then Warsaw, with a population of 15-20 thousand.

After nearly two centuries, good fortune deserted Toruń. A war against Sweden brought initially both success and… legends. Toruń’s success was withstanding the attack of the Swedish corps in 1629, heavily outnumbering the Polish troops. Toruń’s burghers, who enjoyed the royal privilege of having their own army, fought a heroic battle with the invaders. The legends included those about the Cat’s Head and the Swede. In 1658, Toruń was under the Swedish occupation, but the invaders wreaked the worst havoc in 1703, followed by the fall the city had never seen before.
The fortified city quickly recovered from the first devastating Swedish attack in 1629.
In 1636, following the death of King John I Albert in 1501, Toruń was in mourning again, watching Princess Anna Vasa, the Protestant sister of King Sigismund Vasa (Zygmunt III Waza), being ceremonially laid to rest in the Protestant Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the major Protestant church at the time).
In August 1645, this great and prosperous city hosted Colloquium Charitatium, the meeting of eminent European theologians who came to Toruń to discuss their differences in brotherly atmosphere. Although the meeting failed to achieve its intended goal and no firm conclusions were met, it was one of the most famous and important events in the history of Toruń. The West in particular stood in awe of the event, and the originator of the idea, King Ladislas Vasa (Władysław IV Waza), won the title of an open-minded and tolerant monarch, while Toruń went down in history as the city of tolerance.
However, the religious differences between dominant Protestantism and Catholicism, coming back to life as a result of the Jesuit Counter-Reformation, became increasingly evident in the city. In 1724, the constantly growing tension resulted in the notorious Tumult of Toruń’ (which is said to mark the end of the Protestant era in Toruń). It started with a seemingly harmless street fight between the Jesuit College students and those of the Protestant Academic Gymnasium. The skirmish ended with a dramatic finale - a special royal committee consisting of Catholics identified the perpetrators - Lutherans exclusively; fourteen were sentenced to death, of which ten, including Burgomaster Johann Gottfried Rösner, were decapitated in Toruń.
The far-reaching consequences of the Tumult of Toruń proved disastrous for the city: the nobility in the whole of the Republic boycotted Toruń’s merchants; the royal army, then Saxon, time after time plundered the city. What is more, the incidents nearly brought about a religious war in Europe. Toruń’s Evangelicals petitioned Protestant monarchs and, in effect, the hapless city received the support from the Kings of Denmark and England, the Russian Tsar and Frederick II of Prussia. Armed intervention seemed imminent. However, also due to the intensive demarche on the part of the royal and Vatican diplomacy, Warsaw won the support of Austria and Spain; preparations for the invasion on the Republic were discontinued. Otherwise, the partition of Poland might have taken place a few dozen years earlier…

Thus, Toruń’s notoriety in the Republic was huge even though its loyalty to its homeland rarely wavered.

The First Partition of the Republic of Poland-Lithuania in 1772 did not include Toruń and Gdańsk, the two important cities. After the Second Partition in 1793, Toruń was annexed by Prussia. As the only city demonstrating its allegiance to its homeland, though symbolically now, Toruń closed the city gates in protest. It had little effect as the Prussians forced the gates. On entering, they overturned the old order: no local policy, no burghers’ republic. Toruń’s residents knew they were losing their autonomy, yet they never suspected it would be permanent.

Soon after the First Partition, King Frederick II of Prussia and his successors pushed for the development of ‘their’ town of Bydgoszcz as an economic counterbalance to Toruń and Gdańsk, the two great and important cities which were still Polish. Thus, the growth of Bydgoszcz was encouraged, marked by establishing state-owned and private enterprises. Finally, the Bydgoski Canal was built - an important water transport route. Due to political considerations, the Prussians sought to hinder the development of Toruń - the city of stronger national identity than ‘germanized’ Bydgoszcz.

The hitherto merchant city, smelling of gingerbread, wine, cereal and herring, became a fortress on the border between Prussia and Russia. Then, the fortunes of the city were mixed: in December 1806, Napoleon’s army entered Toruń and the city for long served as a garrison and hospital, suffering much damage, loss and requisition. In 1807, the Duchy of Warsaw was established and in 1809 Toruń became the seat of its government and the so-called ‘grand city’ of the Duchy, on a par with the cities of Warsaw, Poznań and Kalisz. In the same year, for the second time in history, the city withstood attack on its own, now coming from Austria. In June 1812, Napoleon stopped in Toruń on his way to Moscow, exploring the city and searching for traces of Copernicus. Followed by the Russians, he returned to Toruń only one year later and defended the city with the Bavarians who came to his aid. In the Napoleonic Era, through Toruń marched hordes of predatory armies wreaking havoc and plundering the city. Toruń’s question was resolved conclusively at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Toruń was ceded to Prussia which, after 1817, embarked on fortifying the city. By the end of the nineteenth century, Toruń had become a fortress of the first rank, one of the biggest in Europe, boasting a number of well-preserved historic buildings (>>).

Gradually, Toruń rose from the fall. The Prussians built barracks, a hospital, fortifications, arsenals, stations, a post office, factories, a slaughterhouse, a printing house, and a court (yet it was also the Prussians that irretrievably damaged and pulled down a number of valuable historic buildings, including Gothic churches, tenements, palaces, medieval towers, gates and walls). They erected buildings in neo-Gothic style so that they would commemorate the Teutonic-German roots of this area. And they do. It can hardly escape notice that similar neo-Gothic red houses stand in Cologne, Frankfurt and Strasburg, while they do not, for example, in Włocławek, which is only 50 kilometres away.
Apart from architecture, the endeavours to give the city German character came to nothing. Toruń was a bastion of the Polish national consciousness in Pomerania, and the stronger the pressure of Germanization was, the stronger the sense of Polishness became. It was in Toruń that the Plebeian’s Union operated, preparing anti-Prussian rebellion of 1846, and it was in Toruń that the Polish newspaper, Gazeta Toruńska, was issued. In 1875, the Learned Society was founded, recognized for its fierce struggle against Germanization by all European countries. There were nearly forty Polish organisations in Toruń altogether!

The red and white flag was flown on the tower of the Old City Town Hall on 18 January 1920, concluding the 127-year captivity. The city became the capital of the Pomeranian administrative region in recognition of its struggle to retain its Polish identity and that of the whole of Pomerania in the Prussian Partition.
Soon the city saw the period of dynamic population growth (its population doubled in the inter-war period), accompanied by urban and architectural development.
In 1920-39, Toruń, as the centre of political life in Pomerania, escaped the excessive number of industrial chimneys and large concentration of labourers which, after the Second World War, proved to be pernicious in effect. Toruń lost its status as the capital of the province for the benefit of Bydgoszcz, which, as it was argued, was more ‘proletariat-friendly’ and favoured the new socialist authority. However, with a population of approximately 206 thousand, Toruń is currently the co-capital of the Kuiavia-Pomerania province, the seat of the Marshall and other administration. It is also a big centre for industry, culture and academic life, with the biggest and oldest university in the north of Poland.
8th - 12th century
- Early mediaeval settlement at the crossing of the Vistula river
- The Mazovian Prince Conrad gives the Chełmno Land to the German order of the Virgin Mary - the Knights of the Teutonic Order

Teutonic Toruń (1230 - 1454)
- Teutonic Knights settle on the site of the present-day village of Stary Toruń (Old Toruń). Development of a settlement called Toruń (or Thorun or Thorn)
- Toruń receives city statutes from the Teutonic Order
- Toruń is moved to the present location of the Old Quarter. The Knights build a new castle (the seat of the Commander) in the place of old Polish one
- Franciscans settle in today's Old City and begin constriction of the church of the Virgin Mary and a monastery
- Successful defence against the troops of the Gdańsk prince Świętopełk, who besieged Toruń
- Merchant house and cloth hall are built in the Old City Market Square
- Dominicans settle in today's New City and begin construction of the church of St. Nicholas and a monastery
- Settlement outside the eastern walls of the town receives civic rights and is called Toruń New City. The earlier town has been called since this moment Toruń Old City.
- Toruń Old City becomes a member of the Hanseatic League  
before 1300
- Merchant Guild founded

14th century
- The supreme period in the development of mediaeval Toruń. The town is a powerful emporium of trade, one of the biggest centres in Europe and the most important link in the trade of Poland with the countries of Western Europe (mainly Flanders, England, Westphalia). The Vistula port in Toruń receives sea-going vessels. At the end of the 14th century the city experiences its greatest prosperity, has a population of about 13 thousand of inhabitants and right after royal Krakow is the largest city of the Polish lands. It is the great centre of fine art and crafts.

- Construction of the Toruń New City Town Hall begin
- Laying a foundation stone for the construction of the parish church of the New City (church of St. James)
- Benedictine convent founded;
- prestigious and exclusive St. George Guild founded, gathering together the richest patriciate


- Czech kings (John of Bohemia, Charles IV) stay in Toruń
- After signing Polish-Teutonic peace treaty in the town of Kalisz, King Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great) came to Torun, initiating the Polish kings' visits in Toruń, which till 1709 were held almost 50
- In the Church of St. James the first in Pomerania organs were placed

- Construction of a prestigious Artus Court, the first such facility in the State of the Teutonic Order
- Torun Old City receives the law of staple (ius stapulae) (refurbished in 1403 by Teutonic Master Konrad von Jungingen and extended in 1457 by Polish King Casimir Jagiellon)
- City council granted the privilage to build a new Old City Town Hall
- Toruń Old Town councilman, Albert Russe is appointed commandant of Stockholm - gained by Hansa - for 2 years

- secret brotherhood of the nobility of the Chelmno Land called Lizard Society created for defense against oppression of the Teutonic Knights

- The first written mention of the existence of water pipes system in Toruń (whereas the first water supply system is known from archaeological sources already existed before the middle of the 14th century)

1410 Aug 7
- King Ladislas Jagiellon (Władyłsaw Jagiełło) receives homage from the City Council of Toruń in Malbork following the victory at the battle of Grunwald; the King grants the Old City of Toruń new privileges.

1411 Feb 1
- The First Peace Treaty of Toruń returns the city to the Teutonic State following a five-month break.

- Extension of the city walls, including the barbican, towers and strongholds.

- By order of King Ladislas Jagiellon (Władysław Jagiełło), a Polish castle is erected on the opposite bank of the Vistula to serve as a counterweight to Teutonic Toruń. The hamlet and the castle receive the name of Dybów (Nieszawa)

- The Prussian League is formed in the town of Kwidzyn, involving Toruń as an active member and the seat of the League’s Secret Council in the Old City. Toruń renounces its allegiance to the Teutonic Order on 4 February 1454

1454 Feb 6
- The attack on the Teutonic castle by Toruń Old City burghers, who, by entering the Secret Prussian League, revolt against the Order. The castle surrenders, which puts the Teutonic rule in Toruń to an end. The Thirteen Years’ War against the Order begins and the fact is announced to the King by the Prussian League delegation from Toruń. 

1454 March 6
- King Casimir Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jgaiellończyk) incorporates Prussia with Toruń, Gdańsk and Elbląg into the Kingdom of Poland, officially declaring war on the Teutonic Order.

The Great City of Prussia. Royal Toruń (1454-1793)

1454 March 8
- The Old and the New Cities of Toruń merge into one urban complex with the population of roughly 11 thousand.

1454 May 28
- King Casimir Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk) becomes the first Polish King to receive the tribute from the people of the Chełmo Land on the Old City Market Square in Toruń. Read more here.

- On request from the nobility, the Statutes of Nieszawa are passed on the Dybów Castle by King Casimir Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk). In exchange for their support in the battle against the Teutonic Order, the King conceded that no army would be raised nor new tax levied without the consent of the noble, giving the dietines the legislative supremacy. The statutes also ruled that no new laws could be introduced by the King independently and restricted the rights of the peasants and the burghers, establishing the noble monopoly in land.

- King Casimir Jagiellon grants Toruń new privileges in exchange for its considerable financial support in the Thirteen Years’ War and extends the existing ones. These include the mint law, the ownership of 15 villages and granges, and the staple right. Toruń becomes a fully autonomous royal city. From the second half of the 15th century, its growth is largely dependent on the privileges and lively Vistula trade between Royal Prussia and Poland

- Toruń City Council takes over the role of the Supreme Court from the Council of the town of Chełmo and extends jurisdiction over all cities founded under the Law of Chełmno (until 1608).

- Toruń takes over the Teutonic Castle in Świecie (55 km north of Toruń) and receives half of the income collected from the villages in the District of Świecie until 1520

1466 Oct 19
- The Second Peace Treaty of Toruń is signed in Artus House, concluding the Thirteen Years’ War. Poland regains the western part of the Teutonic State and Varmia. The former, initially autonomous, comprised Royal Prussia, i.e. Vistula Pomerania with Gdańsk (the sea access), the Chełmno Land with Toruń and the area of Żuławy with Elbląg. The eastern part of the Teutonic State, later known as Ducal Prussia, becomes the Polish fief.

- King Casimir Jagiellon (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk) grants Toruń the right to organize three annual international fairs, which, especially in the 16-17th centuries, take the form of large-scale trade events, influencing the economic growth of the city and the whole of the Republic of Poland

1473 Feb 19
- Birth of Nicolaus Copernicus

- Birth of King Casimir Jagiellon’s (Kazimierz Jagiellończyk's) daughter, Anna Jagiellon, in Dybów Castle

- Filippo Buonaccorsi - an Italian humanist and writer, known as Callimachus, takes ownership of two Toruń tenements. He had formerly visited the city on several occasions, for example, during King John I Albert’s (Jan Olbracht's) visit to Toruń.

1500 Sept 22 
- Tuba Dei bell is cast and placed in St. Johns’ Cathedral Tower. One of the biggest Polish bells at the time, it is currently the biggest Polish medieval bell.

- Construction of the second (after Krakow) longest bridge on the Vistula is completed. Toruń ranks high in respect of its urban development

- Death of King John I Albert (Jan Olbracht) in the Royal Chamber of the Old City Town Hall. His visit follows the breach of the Second Peace Treaty of Toruń by the Teutonic order

- King Alexander Jagiellon 9Aleksander Jagiellończyk) concedes that Toruń has the interminable privilege of use of the red wax seal, considered a royal attribute.

early 16th century
- Toruń loses its prominence in transit trade to Gdańsk. From now on the city’s economic power relies on its international fairs and property income.
- Toruń becomes an important Lutheran centre in Poland, attracting members of different religions.

-  King Sigismund the Elder (Zygmunt Stary) grants Toruń a storage right with regard to domestic, and since 1543, also the imported salt.

- The Polish Parliament session held in the Old City Town Hall. King Sigismund the Elder (Zygmunt Stary) arrives in Toruń and, at the meeting with Albrecht Hohenzollern, declares war on the Teutonic Order. He also imposes a ban (the so-called Toruń Edict) on importing and spreading Lutheran readings in Poland to stop the influx of Reformation thought. It was the first legal ban on popularizing the Reformation movement in Poland.

- The beginning of Reformation in Toruń and serious social unrest. The attempt to burn the image of Martin Luther and his writings in front of St. Johns’ Church by a papal legate and the accompanying him bishops met with strong opposition on the part of Toruń burghers, who showered them with stones and forced to retreat.
- The last truce between Poland and the Teutonic Order signed by King Sigismund the Elder (Zygmunt Stary) and Grand Master Albrecht Hohenzollern.

- Reformatio Sigismundi issued by King Sigismund the Elder (Zygmunt Stary), a pamphlet modifying Toruń’s former political system

- Jôst Ludwig Dietz opens the Royal Mint of Prussia in Toruń (>>)

- The abolition of the staple right on the Vistula, which had a diminishing effect on the economy growth in Toruń and resulted in the eventual loss of monopoly over the Baltic Sea to Gdańsk

- Religious liberties granted to Toruń by King Sigismund-Augustus (Zygmunt August) seal the Reformation victory and allow establishing schools by different religious groups

- The Protestant Gymnasium is established in Toruń, the grandest educational institution in Royal Prussia.
- The opening of the first printing house, one of the oldest in Poland

1576 Aug 26
- King Stephan Bathory’s visit to Toruń. The Polish Parliament session is held in the Old City Town Hall.

- The world’s first periodical is issued: the education yearbook Institutio Literata (the history of Toruń journalism here)

- The Protestant Gymnasium becomes the Academic Gymnasium. In 1595 Burgomaster Heinrich Stroband attempts to establish a university in Toruń.

- The General Synod of the Lutherans, Calvinists and the Czech Brothers (concerned with the question of building a university in Toruń, too

- The Jesuit Order is brought to Toruń. The beginning of the Counter-Reformation.

Late 16th and early 17th century
- Another economic and cultural peak of the city encouraged by the efforts of Burgomaster Heinrich Stroband. Toruń, known as the Queen of the Vistula organizes international fairs, actively engages in the Vistula trade (dealing with crop, forest goods, salt, copper, herring and wine), fosters craft development in the field of food industry (e.g the famous gingerbread), cloth industry, paper mill and decorative craft (e.g. goldsmithery, copper works). The period was also marked by cultural growth in Toruń: the famous Academic Gymnasium attracted a number of eminent scholars such as Glicner, Schober, Rybiński. Toruń was located on the trade routes between Russia and Lithuania and the Greater Poland and Germany. The population of Toruń numbers roughly 15-20 thousand and the city continues to be among the biggest and most outstanding Polish cities.

- Great Lutheran synod led by Burgomaster Stroband;
- The opening of the Catholic Jesuit College (founded by the Bishop of Chełmno, Piotr Tylicki, as early as 1593), which was the second lower-secondary school beside the Protestant Academic Gymnasium; in 1670 the school enlarged to include the first musical school in Pomerania

- The first artillery shooting contest in Pomerania, organised by Toruń Rifle Club

- The left-bank village of Podgórz (today the disctrict of Toruń) receives its city charters from King Sigismund Vasa (Zygmunt Waza)

- The session of the Polish Parlament held in the Old City Town Hall

- The attack at Toruń during the war with Sweden is resisted; the cities were saved by modern rampart fortifications and the regular Toruń army

-  The funeral ceremony of Princess Anna Vasa, King Sigismund Vasa’s (Zygmunt Waza's) sister

- Toruń royal pharmacist, Paulus Guldenius, writes the first dictionary of pharmaceutical terms

- Colloquium Charitativum, the meeting of European Catholics and Protestants organized on the initiative of King Ladislas Vasa (Władysław Waza) in the Old City Town Hall to bring harmony between the Catholics, Calvinists and Lutherans. Despite failing to meet its objective, the meeting had far-reaching repercussions for the whole of then religiously and politically divided Europe.

- The opening of the first post office, called posthalternia.

1655 Dec 5 – 1658 Dec 23
- Swedish occupation of Toruń (the city becomes the seat of the Swedish Governor of Prussia), followed by the fall of the city,
- The Church of the Holly Spirit and the Convent of Benedictines are burnt and subsequently demolished by the invaders in 1655.

1659 Jan 1
- King John Caismir Vasa’s (Jan kazimierz) arrival in the regained city of Toruń

1661 Aug 5
- For the first time in Poland, Nicolaus Copernicus heliocentric theory is publicly validated during the debate in the Academic Gymnasium.

- The onset of the Northern War, which initiates a number of Toruń defeats and eventually leads to the fall of the city: Toruń suffers the greatest monument loss in history. Notwithstanding, Toruń remains one of the most eminent centres for early Englightement thought in Poland until ca. 1740, owing to the activities of the renowned academics of the Academic Gymnasium; The first periodicals are issued.

Early 18th century onwards
- A rapid growth of Toruń suburbs, which time after time are destroyed by frequent military operations

1702 Oct  30
- King Augustus Saxon’s visit to Toruń, which served as his residence until February 1703. The city also became the major political centre and the biggest fortress in Royal Prussia.

1703 May 26 - Oct 13
- Toruń besieged by the Swedish, who caused a considerable damage to the city, including the Old City Town Hall. With short intervals, the siege lasted until 1709. Read more here.

Ca. 1706 onwards
- Toruń, particularly the intellectuals of the Academic Gymnasium, becomes an important propagator of the early Enlightement and Enlightement thought in the Polish Republic throughout the whole of the 18th century, i.e. until the time of the Partitions of P.

- The plaque epidemics, resulting in nearly 6 thousand deaths, especially among the poorer part of the Catholic community.

- The city occupied by the Saxons and the Russians, who continue to destroy it by quartering and tributes. The meeting of Tsar Peter the Great and Augustus Saxon in Toruń (1709).

- The Evangelical Synod of the Crown of the Republic of Poland and Lithuania aimed at developing a common policy on protecting the rights of different religious groups and religious liberties.

- The first issue of the weekly "Das Gelehrte Preussen” (Learned Prussia) - the first of the 18th-century Toruń scientific journal series, which was the earliest and most successful publishing attempt in Poland.

1724 Jul 16-17
- The Tumult of Toruń – a bloody religion-driven skirmish between Toruń Protestants and the persecuted Catholics, which resulted in 10 deaths by beheading on the Old City Market Square. The event triggered international repercussions and nearly fomented armed intervention on the part of the hostile European countries.

- The Bernardine College of Philosophy moved to Toruń from the town of Bydgoszcz


- Toruń captured by the Russians in the War of the Polish Succession.

- The clash between Łukasz Konopka and the city of Toruń

- The first weather measurement in Toruń, one of the first in Poland.

 - The establishment of the Learned Society: the first association of its kind in Toruń and one of the first in Poland, which initiated the first organized study of the Polish language

- Samuel Thomas Sömmerring is born, an eminent anatomist, doctor and physiologist.

- The Russian Army march-past repeatedly passes through Toruń, where it is also garrisoned for some period of time.

- The Confederation of Dissidents, formed by the gentry instigated by Tsarina Catherine II under the banner of political rights and religious liberties protection

- The failed attack of Bar confederates at Toruń (which the city opposed to).

- Samuel Bogumił Linde is born, an eminent linguist and bibliographer, the author of the first dictionary of the Polish language

- The First Partition of Poland, which separated Toruń remaining within the Kingom of Poland from its profitable land properties; the loss of transport and trade routes.
In 1772, in a letter to the King of Prussia Frederick II, French philosopher Volter thus substantiated the necessity of incorporating Toruń and Gdańsk into Prussia: ”because of the fact that Copernicus discovered the true system of the world in Toruń, and astronomer Hevelius was born in Gdańsk, both cities should consistently belong to Prussia.”

- Fryderyk Skarbek is born, an eminent economist and publicist, Fryderyk Chopin’s godfather.

Prussian Toruń (1793-1807 and 1815-1920)

1793 Jan 24
- Toruń invaded by the Army of Prussia as a result of the Second Partition of Poland, which marks the end of the autonomous burgher republic. The city lost its autonomy and political significance and was leveled with other cities. The number of population dropped from 15-20 thousand in the 17th century to 6 thousand.

1806 Dec 6
- Napoleon’s Army offensive – the Prussians leave Toruń without armed combat (see here)

Toruń in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1815)

1807. 7. 7.
- The Treaty of Tilsit and complementary Elbląg Convention of 10 November incorporate the Chełmno Land with Toruń into the Duchy of Warsaw (until 1813). The city becomes one of the four so-called major cities.

- Following the seizure of Warsaw by the Austrians, the Duchy of Warsaw’s government leaves for Toruń, which becomes the major political centre and the seat of the Duchy’s State Council.
- The city resists the Austrian attack

- The oldest suburban 14th century Church of St George is demolished.

1812 Jun 2 - 6
- Napoleon Bonaparte visits Toruń on his way to Russia, exploring the city in his free time in search of Copernicus memorablia. 

- Toruń falls under the military power of Russia, defended by the Polish, Bavarian and French troops. Large-scale city destruction leads to its economic collapse.

Prussian Toruń (1815-1920)

1815 Sep 22
- The provisions of the Congress of Vienna incorporate Toruń into Prussia (until 1920) as the border garrison

after 1817 
- The Prussians begin converting the city into a powerful fortress of the first-rank, one of the largest in Europe by the end of the 19th century.
- The population of the city numbers 8.6 thousand people

- The Gothic 14th-century Church of St. Lawrence demolished.

- Fryderyk Chopin on a visit in Toruń.

- The establishment of the main duty office on timber floated down the Vistula.

- The Gothic 14th century Church of St Nicholas demolished.

- The conspiracy of the Plebeian Union is uncovered. The organization was formed with a view to commencing an anti-Prussian rebellion on the Polish land.

1853 Sep 25
- The unveiling of Copernicus Monument.

- Toruń becomes telegraphically connected with Berlin and, in 1860, with Warsaw.

- "Pan Tadeusz", the national epic by Adam Mickiewicz is published for the first time in Poland, in Ernst Lambeck Publishing House.
- The construction of the first city gasworks.

The 1860s onwards
- Toruń becomes the first and most important centre for Polishness in Pomerania due to the considerable cultural and academic growth. The Polish spirit is manifest in, for example, the Toruń Gazette (Polish: Gazeta Toruńska), the fight against the Kulturkampf, Polish organizations and institutions operating on a regional scale, such as the Polish League, the Academic Help Association, the Society for Moral Business, the Philomaths and Philarets, the still existing Learned Society of Toruń (1875), the Industrial Society, banks and financial institutions etc. There were altogether 39 Polish organizations at the beginning of the 20th century.

- The opening of the City Museum (Städtisches Museum), which in 1930 was incorporated into the present-day District Muesum

1861 Oct 12
- The railroads to Berlin, Gdańsk and, in 1862, to Warsaw are built, which triggers Toruń’s economic growth. Together with the newly-opened rail link to
nigsberg (now Kaliningrad) in 1873, the railways made Toruń a large railway junction.

- The construction of a wooden bridge over the Vistula.

- The Toruń Gazette (Gazeta Toruńska) is issued for the first time, the most serious Polish political organ in West Prussia.
- The first in a series of annual Rural Dietines, which was the meeting of Polish landed gentry in West Prussia.
- The formation of Toruń Loan Association – an institution providing financial and credit services for the people of Poland.

- The construction of the still existing rail bridge over the Vistula, steel and 1272 m long.

1873 Feb 19
- Formal Nicolaus Copernicus’s 400th birthday celebrations: by Poles and officially by Germans. Both nations recognized him as their compatriot.

- demolishing the majority of gothic city walls, gates and towers

- The Polish Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition – the largest event promoting Polish industrial and agricultural activities in Prussian Toruń

- The establishment of the Learned Society, attracting Pomeranian intellectuals; today one of the oldest societies of its kind in Poland.

- Jan Matejko (one of the most famous Polish painters) in Toruń

- The establishment of the Philomaths in the gymnasium, a secret student organization, later known as Tomasz Zan Society.

- The opening of Toruń Miasto railway station, followed by Toruń Mokre station (today Toruń Wschodni).

- The opening of a horse-drawn tram route; electric drives introduced in 1899 (more on trams here)

- The construction of William Horzyca Theatre.

- School children strike for the Polish language.
- The population of the city numbers 46 thousand inhabitants.


- The construction of an airport in Toruń.

- The establishment of the Polish People’s Council.

Polish Toruń (1920-1939 and 1945-...)

1920 Jan 18
- The liberation of Pomerania and Toruń by the Haller army. The city is incorporated into Poland as the capital of Pomerania Voivodeship (administrative region).
- The establishment of the Artist Confraternity on the initiative of, for example, painter Julian Fałat and liberat Artur Górski. It was a representative Pomeranian cultural organization of famous artists.
- The city numbers 37.5 thousand inhabitants. In the interwar period, Toruń was inhabited by a large number of Polish intelligentsia and some political and social activists. Beside the spatial development, it considerably developed its transport infrastructure. Toruń was not only an administrative, academic and cultural centre; it was also a large military hub, hosting, for example, the Corps Command of the 8th Military District, numerous military formations, including 63rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Light Artillery Regiment, 4th Aviation Regiment, 8th Heavy Artillery Regiment, Independent Anticraft Artillery Division, 1st Balloon Squad.

- The Pomeranian Music Society enlarged to include the Music Conservatory, which in 1925 became an institution of higher education.
- The general Polish Convention of Legionaries and Polish Military Organization Members with the participation of Marshal Joseph Piłsudski (another his visit in 1923)

- The establishment of the first Polish Officer Naval Academy eventually moved to Gdynia.
- Witkacy’s (famous Polish playwright, novelist, painter, photographer and philosopher) visit to Toruń and the staging of two of his plays in the Theatre of Pomerania (now Wilam Horzyca Theatre).

- The establishment of Nicolaus Copernicus Public Library, the largest Pomeranian library of the time, one the biggest regional libraries in Poland, which was made by incorporating several older and smaller libraries.
- Marshall Joseph Piłsudski establishes Officer School of Artillery.

- The foundation of the Pomeranian Opera House.

- Antoni Bolt’s presidency, marked by an intensive city development.

- The establishment of the Baltic Institute, in 1931 moved to Gdynia.

- The establishment of the Council of Academic, Artistic and Cultural Associations of Pomerania, whose main objective was to open a university in Toruń.
- The establishment of the Pomeranian Music Institute.

1934 Nov 11
- The opening of Joseph Piłsudski Bridge.

- The establishment of the Polish Radio Broadcasting Station of Pomerania.

1936 Dec
- The city of Podgórz and the village of Rudak are incorporated into Toruń.

Toruń under Hitler’s occupation (1939-1945)

1939 Sept 7 – 1945 Feb 1
- Hitler’s occupation of Toruń.
- The city numbers 81.2 thousand inhabitants (1939).

1939 Oct – Nov
- Prisoner executions in Barbarka.

- The police prison for Poles, especially the Polish intelligentsia, in Tadeusz Kościuszko Fort No. 7.

- Stalag XXa, a prisoner-of-war camp for all nationalities.

- A female subcamp of the Stutthof camp

1940 Feb
- The dismantling of the Polish secret organizations by the Gestapo, such as the "Death Squad", the "Defenders of Poland Department", the "Grunwald Organization", the "Polish Independence Action".

1942 Feb 14
- Following the establishment of the Polish Home Army, Toruń becomes the seat of the Command of the Pomeranian Home Army Staff.

- Toruń becomes one of the major German cities-fortresses in Poland.

1945 Feb 1
- The liberation of the city by the 70th Soviet Army of the 2nd Belarusian Front.

Present-day Toruń (from 1945)

1945 Mar 2
- The seat of the Pomerania Voivodeship (administrative region) is moved from Toruń to Bydgoszcz, which, as it was argued, was more ‘proletariat-friendly’ and favoured the new socialist authority

1945 Aug 24
- The establishment of the first and biggest academic institution in Pomerania: Nicolaus Copernicus University.

- Moving the Polish Radio Broadcasting Station of Pomerania from Toruń to Bydgoszcz

- Moving the symphony orchestra from Toruń to Bydgoszcz. In 1953 it was incorporated into the present-day Pomeranian Philharmonic.

- A politically-driven decision concerning moving a number of organisations to Bydgoszcz, including the cultural and academic associations linked to Niholaus Copernicus University. Toruń magazines are closed down and the printing plant and machinery are moved to Bydgoszcz.

- The construction of the Astronomical Observatory under the auspices of Nicolaus Copernicus University

- A thorough renovation of the Old City Town Hall, partly restoring it to its former beauty.

- Archeological works in the Teutonic Castle ruins, now open for visitors.

- The first Theatre Festival of Northern Poland, the only festival reviewing the output of several Polish theatres at the time.

The 1960s
- A dynamic industrial growth of the city.
- Toruń numbers 105 thousand inhabitants in 1960.

- The Provincial Pedagogical Library housing valuable and rich collections, including numerous old prints, is moved to Bydgoszcz.

- Toruń Teachers’ Training College operating since 1954 is closed and incorporated into Bydgoszcz Higher School of Teachers’ Training (later renamed as Higher Teacher Education School, Bydgoszcz Academy and finally, in 2005, Kazimierz Wielki University)

1973 Feb 18
- Nicolaus Copernicus 500th birth anniversary and the inauguration of the International Copernicus Year, which entailed, for example, large building investments in the area of tourism and academic life (e.g. the university campus was built).
- The population of the city numbers 130 thousand people

- The construction work of Rubinkowo, Toruń biggest housing estate, starts.

1975 Jun 1
- The establishment of the Voivodeship of Toruń.
- The population of the city numbers 150 thousand people.

1984 Oct 18/19
- The abduction and murder of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko by the Security Service in Górsk near Toruń. The accused tried in Toruń

- The first edition of Kontakt, the International Theatre Festival, one of the most important in Poland, which replaced the Theatre Festival of Northern Poland.

1991 Jul
- The Soviet Army leaving Toruń.

1991 Dec
- The establishment of “Radio Maryja”, the first Catholic broadcasting station in Poland.

1992 March 25
- The establishment of the Diocese of Toruń by a papal bull issued by Pope John Paul II.

- The establishment of a Theological College in Toruń.
- The first Camerimage film festival, one of the biggest in Poland and one of the most important in the world, since 2000 held in Łódź.

- A complete renovation of Artus House, restoring its former glory.

- The largest and most innovative radiotelescope in Central and Eastern Europe is mobilized in NCU Astronomical Observatory, which is where Aleksander Wolszczan, a Toruń university graduate and the discoverer of the first non-solar planetary system, started his work.
- The opening of the modern Planetarium.
- President Lech Wałęsa names Toruń the National History Monument.
- The first Probaltica Festival of Chamber Music and Fine Arts of the Baltic States.

- The construction of one of the largest and most innovative sewage treatment plants.

- The 350th anniversary of Colloquium Charitativum

- The famous demolition of the Monument of Gratitude to the Soviet Army.
- Fort No. 4, the first structure of the 19th-century Toruń Fortress, is made available for tourists.

1997 Dec 4
- Toruń Old City included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

- The first excavation works at Dybów Castle in history.

1998 Jul 1
- The opening of the Polish Home Army Bridge and the section of the Trans-European North-East Motorway (Amber One) – Toruń eastern ring road.

- The establishment of the Academic Gymnasium, the only institution of its kind in Poland
- The establishment of the Higher School of Banking.

1999 Jan 1
- The establishment of the Kuiavia-Pomeranian Voivodeship with Toruń as the seat of the regional government.

1999 Jun 7
- Pope John Paul II in Toruń: the meeting with rectors of all Polish academic institutions in the university hall. The beatification of Father Frelichowski during the Pope’s meeting with pilgrims.

2000 Jan 18 - 21
- The 80th anniversary of returning Pomerania and Toruń to Poland.
- The population of the city numbers 206.1 thousand.

2001 Jun 17 - 21
- The 500th anniversary of King John I Albert’s (jan Olbracht) death.

2001 Dec
- Toruń receives the Honorary Flag of the Council of Europe.
- The establishment of the Higher School of Social and Media Culture by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk.

- The beginning of 80 mln euro investments within the 4-year ISPA Project. They include 13 contracts on constructing the complete sewage system in Toruń, replacing asbestos cement pipes and introducing the modern Drwęca water conditioning technology in Lubicz.
- Toruń Military Academy is closed and replaced by the Artillery and Armaments Training Centre.

- The establishment of “Telewizja Trwam”, the Catholic television channel, by Father Taduesz Rydzyk.

- The incorporation of Bydgoszcz Medical Academy into Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń as Collegium Medicum

- The opening of the southern ring road around Toruń, the so-called range route.
- The population of the city numbers 208.0 thousand on 31 Dec 2005.

- Toruń applies for the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

- Toruń becomes the second of the Seven Wonders of Poland according to the plebiscite published by the Rzeczpospolita daily.

2008. 6.
- The opening of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Toruń.
Copyright by
Arkadiusz Skonieczny
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