Tag: Gothic

Tag: Gothic

Medieval Town Of Toruń

The Medieval Town of Toruń owes its origins to the Teutonic Order, which built a castle in the town in the mid-13th century as a base for the conquest and evangelisation of Prussia. This acted as a catalyst for the growth, importance and popularity of the town and it soon developed a commercial role as part of the Hanseatic League.

In the Old and New Town, the many imposing public and private buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries (among them the house of Nicolaus Copernicus) are striking evidence of Torun’s stature.

Toruń is a remarkably well preserved example of a medieval European trading and administrative centre. The city was founded in the period when Christianity was being spread through Eastern Europe by the military monks of the Teutonic Order, and when rapid growth in trade between the countries of the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe was being spurred by the Hanseatic League.

The Medieval Town of Toruń is comprised of three elements: the ruins of the Teutonic Castle, the Old Town, and the New Town, all surrounded by a circuit of defensive walls.

The majority of the castle was destroyed during an uprising in 1454, when the local townspeople revolted against the Teutonic Order. The ruins and the archaeological remains have been excavated and safeguarded.

An exceptionally complete picture of the medieval way of life is illustrated in the original street patterns and early buildings of Toruń. Both the Old Town and the New Town have Gothic parish churches and numerous fine medieval brick townhouses, many of which have retained their original Gothic façades, partition walls, stucco-decorated ceilings, vaulted cellars, and painted decoration.

Many townhouses in Toruń were used for both residential and commercial purposes. A fine example is the house in which Nicolaus Copernicus was reputedly born in 1473; it has been preserved as a museum devoted to the famous astronomer’s life and achievements.

The townhouses often included storage facilities and remarkable brick granaries, some of which were up to five storeys high. Because so many houses have survived from this period, the medieval plots are for the most part still preserved, delineated by their original brick boundary walls.

Today, the Medieval Town of Toruń shares the title of capital city of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship with the city of Bydgoszcz. The entire city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for being an unusually well-preserved example of a medieval European trading and administrative centre.

The Medieval Town of Toruń has benefited from numerous renovation projects in recent years, in particular the Old Town area. Buildings, pavements, streets and squares have been painstakingly reconstructed reversing them to their historic appearance.

Malbork Castle

Malbork Castle in the north of Poland is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and was designated a World Heritage Site in December 1997 by UNESCO. Located on the east bank of the River Nogat, this Gothic brick-built fortress once belonged to the Teutonic Order and it served as their headquarters for almost 150 years.

Originally a fortress named Marienburg, the Teutonic Knights began this incredible construction in the 13th century and the structure took shape in various stages. Initially, the construction consisted of a formidable central bastion called the High Castle. The Middle Castle and Lower Castle followed and finally, the complex was encircled by three rings of defensive walls strengthened with towers and dungeons.

The Teutonic Knights were a German Catholic religious order of crusaders with considerable military power; however Malbork was seized by the Polish Army in 1457 during the Thirteen Years’ War at a time when the strength and influence of the Order had started to diminish.

Over the years, Malbork Castle has been home to many different occupiers including the Prussians who turned the castle into a barracks and in the process, dismantled parts of the complex with no military significance and also caused major damage to the interior decoration. The castle sustained further damage during WWII.

Despite all of this and thanks largely to intervention and restoration, the castle today looks like it did 600 years ago and almost the entire complex has been preserved. Restoration and conservation work was carried out in the 19th and early 20th centuries and also at the end of WWII with many forgotten medieval art and craft techniques being rediscovered.

Visitors to Malbork Castle can take advantage of an audio guide that utilises GPS with a set route; which if followed ensures that everything that is worth seeing is seen. There is also amenities at the ticket office such as toilets, refreshments and lockers.

During your visit, you’ll see the Middle Castle courtyard, the Grand Masters’ Palace with its 450 m2 Great Refectory, the Amber Museum, St Anne’s Chapel (where 12 Grand Masters were buried), High Castle, the gdaniska (the Knights’ loo), St Mary’s Church and a multitude of other delights such as drawbridges & Gothic doorways.

The best way to explore the castle is with a tour guide. The Malbork Castle regular tour from Gdansk is highly recommended. 

See a virtual tour of Malbork Castle.