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Old April 1st, 2006, 12:01 AM   #1
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Gothic towns of Poland


Torun is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula river. It had 208,386 inhabitants in 2004. The medieval town, birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Torun is the most Gothic urban complex in Poland.

History of Torun

Among others Torun is known for its long and stormy history. In the 13th century founded by the Teutonic Order rapidly became the biggest town in the state. It developed into a resilient trade centre of Hanseatic League within a short period of time. Torun played an important economic and political role in the whole Teutonic State.

Nevetherless its people who in majority were of German origin in 1454 started the Polish-Teutonic Thirteen Year War and eventually chose the rule of the Polish kings.

Excluded from the leading position by the Baltic city - Gdansk, Torun was able to become a very important centre of culture and science in the age of the Reformation and Renaissance. Then it was Torun where an international important events of religious and political matters took place.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the mainly German Protestant population lived here side by side with the mainly Polish Catholic inhabitants.

The end of the 18th century brought partition of Poland among Russia, Austria and Prussia. Poland as a state disappeared from the map of Europe.
In 1793 as a result of the second Partition Torun was taken over by Prussia for over 120 years.

In 1807 was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw but by the year 1815 The Congress of Vienna had given back Torun to Prussia.

In the middle of 19th century Torun became the centre of Polish national movements in Pomerania. Numerous political, economic and cultural organizations were devoted to arousing and maintaining the Polish national consciousness.

The Prussian suppression ended on the 18th of January 1920 when the soldiers of the Pomeranian Front returned to Torun. In the time between the two World Wars (1920-1939) Torun was the capital of the Voivodeship (administrative region) of Pomerania. Torun enjoyed its freedom for almost 20 years, then on the 7th of September 1939 Hitler's army occupied it and it was incorporated into the Gdansk-West Prussia District.
On the 1st of February 1945 the Polish Army regained Torun.

some examples of gothic architecture :

The Teutonic Knights - the founders of Torun

The foundation charter for Torun was signed on 28th December 1233 by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Herman von Salza and the National Master for Prussia and the Slavonic Lands Herman Balka. In that way Toruń was founded by the Teutonic Order and managed by the Knights until 1454, when it became incorporated to the areas of Polish Republic under the reign of king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk.

The medieval origin of the city reminds us about the significance of the Teutonic Knights for Toruń, among its walls there are numerous monuments, and Gothic churches erected at the times when the city was governed by the Order. Many of them have existed to present times, for instance: St. Johns’, St. Jacob’s, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s churches, other ones, like St. Nicolaus’ church, have not survived the passage of time.

The foundation charter, later on referred to a the Chełmno Charter gave rise to the legal regulation of the Chełmno Land. On this basis within 500 years over 200 towns were given legal rights in the land of Prussia and neighbouring countries.

The Knights’ castle was built in the mid 13th century in the place of a former Slavonic settlement. For that reason the castle’s design was not rectangular (as in the majority of castles built by the Order) but in a shape of a horseshoe, with its two endings directed towards the Vistula. A massive octagonal tower was the central point of the castle. Nowadays, among the ruins, one can see only the latrine tower, which was erected probably at the end of 13th century.

Unfortunately the Knights’ Castle, located on the Vistula river bank was destroyed by the townspeople in 1454 shortly before The Teutonic Order paid homage of faithfulness and obedience to the king of Poland and his heirs.

Nicholaus Copernicus

Nicholaus Copernicus, the most famous and the most outstanding citizen of Toruń. He was born here on February 19th, 1473 at St. Anne Street, today 17 Copernicus Street, which now houses a museum dedicated to the astronomer:

photos by Piotr 1079

NMP church by Piotr 1079

other photos by mraku :


Chełmno is a town in northern Poland with 22,000 inhabitants.


The first written mention of Chełmno is known from a document allegedly issued in 1065 by Duke Boleslaus I of Poland for the Benedictine monastery in Mogilno.

In 1226 Duke Konrad I of Masovia invited the Teutonic Knights to Chełmno Land (Kulmerland). In 1233 Chełmno was granted city rights known as "Chełmno rights" (renewed in 1251), the model system for over 200 Polish towns.

The town grew prosperous as a member of the mercantile Hanseatic League. Chełmno and Chełmno Land were part of the Teutonic Knights' state until 1466, when after the Thirteen Years' War Chełmno was incorporated back into Poland and made the capital of Chełmno Voivodship.

In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, Chełmno was taken over by Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1807 and 1815 Chełmno was part of Duchy of Warsaw. In 1874 as part of the Kulturkampf policy that endorsed Germanisation of Polish territories, Chełmno was officially renamed to Kulm. Chełmno returned to Poland in 1920 following World War I. During the interwar period the town experienced renewed economic growth. The city had a mixed German/Polish population during most of his history. At the turn of the century (from 19th to 20th century) the city was about one-third German and two-thirds Polish.


It offers much of architectural interest from the Middle Ages to modern times. There are, for example, the completely preserved chequerboard layout of the town and the medieval, 2,270m long town wall with two gates and 23 bastions. These fortifications are considered among the finest defensive architecture in Europe. Well worth visiting is the Gothic-Renaissance town hall. It is “a pearl of Renaissance architecture” in Pomorze (Pomerania) where the medieval unit of measure, the 4.35 m so-called “Cholmno rod” is preserved. Also worth seeing are the religious buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries, like the Parish Church of the Assumption of Mary, the churches of the Dominicans and Franciscans, the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Cistercian-Benedictine abbey, and St. Martin’s Chapel. These structures form a unique townscape and are without doubt the architectural sights of greatest interest to visitors.


Silesian Carcassonne

It is very uncommon for a small town like Paczków to evoke such interest and curiosity. The town's population amounts to over 8,000 people and is located in Opolskie Province. It is situated in the vicinity of Czech border, on the Nysa Kłodzka River.
The intricate history of the town dates back to 13th century; in 1254 Paczków was granted town status. Since the town was surrounded by defensive walls, it served as a western border flank of the Duchy of Wrocław Bishops. As it usually happens on borderlands, Paczków's history was very stormy; famine, floods, fires and wars became a part of every-day life.

Paczków is often called Polish Carcassonne thanks to its well-preserved medieval fortifications. The ring of defensive walls is 1,200 metres long and 9 metres high (together with D-shaped towers and 4 tower gates). In the centre of Paczków there is a market square with its Town Hall which attracts many tourists. The Town Hall was erected in the middle of 16th century, and it has a renaissance tower on the top of which a vantage point has been located. Paczków prides itself in a unique gothic church made of stone and bricks. The massive building dating back to 14th century has a renaissance attic, and and it has been incorporated to the town's fortifications. In the gothic interior of the church among others there are: a renaissance altar, valuable gravestones and a unique well, called "the Tartar well."


Biecz - country town deserve on special attention of tourists becuse of its picturesque position as well as on rich history and numerous monuments. Colonization on ground Biecza reaches epoches of Neolithic age what testify numerous finds of stone - tools.

In XII century Biecz was well-known as castle" Verscem Rusicem"." Zloty age" was, in history of city, from XIV to XVI. City in this time was developed very intensely.



The first written remark about Szydłów dates back to 1191. It read that Szydłów's denizens were obliged to pay tithes for the collegiate church in Sandomierz. The chronicler Jan Długosz mentioned Szydłów in the context of Tatar invasion: In 1241, troops from Little Poland fought a battle with Tartars "at the village of Chmielnik near the town of Szydłów." It is the evidence that Szydłów was considered a town as early as the beginning of the 13th century.
On the 1st of July 1329 the king Ladislaus the Short granted Szydłów a foundation charter according to the Środa law. It was the date when the town started to develop dynamically. In the middle of the 14th century the king Casimir the Great encircled the town with town walls, turned the royal residence into a fortress and erected a stately church. The town became one of strongholds that protected Little Poland. The town could be accessed by the Cracow Gate, Opatów Gate and Water Gate. The town flourished thanks to frequent visits of the royal court and the fact that it became a seat of a townless Starosty.

The beginning of the 15th century probably saw the first guilds of craftsmen who manufactured all kinds of goods for the needs of the local market. An advantageous location of the town was the reason for more extensive trade relations. Shipments of wine, hop and herds of cattle went through the town, which was a significant source of revenues. Merchants and clothiers of the town travelled with their goods to Sandomierz. It brought about a conflict with dwellers of the town on the Vistula River. The dispute was about trade stalls on the market square. In 1488 the king Casimir the Jagiellonian resolved the dispute for the benefit of merchants from Szydłów who were obliged to pay for the place on the market square and did not have to pay for trading on a yard outside the town where they sold their goods.

Szydlow (as well as Paczkow) is often called Polish Carcassonne


Szydłów was encircled with town walls in the middle of the 14th century by the king Casimir the Great. In the North-West, the walls were erected on the edge of a high wall of a ravine, dropping into the valley of the Ciekąca River. In the South and East, it was built on a flat terrain and strengthened with a earth bank and a moat.
The walls were 1,080 m long and up to 1.8 m thick. Thus, with an area of 6.5 ha, it became one of the greatest strongholds in Little Poland.
Towers, higher than 10 m, allowed for observation of particular sections of the walls. From them, enemy siege-trains that came close to the fortress were destroyed. The walls were also defended by means of so called hourdis - roofed wooden galleries which rested on bars fastened in the wall and had openings in the walls for shooting, throwing of stones and hobnailed logs. They were set up only when there was a danger of war.

'Dream as if you'll live forever - live as you'll die today'

Last edited by DocentX; April 1st, 2006 at 12:06 AM.
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 08:02 AM   #2
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Byczyna is a town of long history. Most probably favourable natural features of the terrain encouraged nomadic people more than four thousand years ago to eagerly come to this area. The Opolanie tribe lived near Byczyna. The exact date when Byczyna itself was founded is not known. It is assumed that the town is as old as the Polish state. According to the notes of Jan Długosz, during the Christianisation of Silesia the first suffragan diocese was created in Smogorzewo near Namysłów. In 1041 it was moved to Byczyna and only in 1052 to Wrocław.

The name of the town comes from the Old Polish word byczyna (the word byk means "a bull" in Polish), which means a place where bulls are bred and grazed. Various other spellings of the word Byczyna were used over centuries, such as Byscina, Biczin, Byczyn, Pyschyn and the German Pitschen.

Byczyna went down in the history of Poland as the place of a triumph of the Polish army. At the city walls of Byczyna on 24 January 1588 Jan Zamojski (1542-1605), the commander-in-chief of the Polish troops (Hetman) defeated the army of Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg, a claimant to the Polish throne. Although the origins of this event were far beyond Byczyna, the battle took place here.

Byczyna has retained the charm of an ancient town that has changed little over the centuries. A quite small, elliptical area is surrounded with the defensive walls, which have been almost entirely preserved to this day, the sand tower and parts of the 15th/16th century moat. There are small backstreets, and narrow streets with low houses and several much higher towers which can bee seen from a long distance. These are the tower of the Town Hall, built at the turn of the 15th and 16th century and renovated in baroque and classical style, the tower of the baroque Holy Trinity Catholic church built in 1767, the 14th century Gothic St. Nicholas' Evangelical church and two towers at the gate. The history of this land can be traced back not only in Byczyna, but also in almost every village of the municipality. A number of interesting historical buildings and natural sites can be found in these villages.

'Dream as if you'll live forever - live as you'll die today'
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Old April 19th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #3
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Nice photos
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