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At the request of a social initiative, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland declared 2017 “The Year of the River Vistula”. This is linked with a round, 550th anniversary of the first toll-free rafting down the Vistula. After the second peace of Toruń, signed on 19 October 1466, the entire length of the river was under Polish control. The year 1467 started a 300-year period of splendour for the queen of Polish rivers. The aim of the activities connected with the celebrations is to create lasting effects – projects, regular events, as well as tourist, cultural, and social products of a local and national character, which could build the river’s strong brand. For this occasion, a special stage has been constructed on the Vistula River, where concerts, shows and other parts of the celebrations will take place.
Thanks to the location of Toruń on the Vistula River, in the place where the key trade routes of Piast Poland met, and at the same time on the border of the State of the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of Poland, the city was in a way an inner seaport for Polish territories. Toruń trade was based on both river and sea shipping. Today, the place – called Bulwar Filadelfijski – is one of the favourite promenades for residents and tourists. It got its function and shape in 1973, for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. Since 1976, it owes its name to a partnership with the American city of Philadelphia.
The Old Town Hall
The building of this once main landmark in the city is one of the most magnificent gothic objects in metropolitan areas in Europe. Its current form is the result of architectural transformations over many centuries. It was created at the end of the 14th century, during the peak period in the city’s development. Its functionality was also unique, combining commercial, administrative, and judicial functions. Today the object belongs to the District Museum and holds in its interiors collections of Gothic art, craftwork, portraits of Polish kings, a gallery of Polish painting, Toruń coins, and extremely valuable treasures of Skrwilno and Nieszawa.
The Burghers’ Hall
The Burghers’ Hall took its name from the collection of portraits and coats of arms of Toruń’s citizens. It was the most important room of the Town Hall and on several occasions hosted royals, envoys and other important personalities. It was here that the Prussian councils gathered, as did, on three occasions, the Polish Sejm. In this room, power was passed over to Poles in 1920. These days, it still serves as a representative hall, which hosts meetings, conferences and concerts.
The Town Hall Tower
Built in 1274, it is the oldest tower of this type in Central and Eastern Europe, and the oldest part of the Town Hall. It is located at the meeting of the southern and eastern wings, and was built in the style of Flanders watchtowers. In the past it was covered with a high Gothic helmet, which proudly protruded above the city until 1703, when as a result of a Swedish attack the tower almost completely burned down. The city archive located within suffered the most, as none of it survived.
The vast inner courtyard of the Old Town Hall, originally with four gates, is currently a place frequently visited by tourists. Only two gates, north and south, are used and opened these days. It hosts numerous temporary exhibitions, concerts and other events.
The Artus Court
The present building of the Artus Court, one of the most representative of Toruń’s Old Town, was constructed in the years 1889-1891 by Rudolf Schmidt in place of three other buildings. The original Artus Court from 1386 was the central point of social life for the richest townsmen. It was here that the Second Peace of Toruń was signed. The original building was demolished in 1802 due to its poor technical condition, and replaced in 1829 with a new, two-storey object intended as a theatre stage. It also used to be a part of the Nicolaus Copernicus University and the student club Od Nowa. Today the building still plays an essential role in the cultural and social life of the city. It is now the seat of the Artus Court Cultural Centre.
The multi-purpose concert and conference hall, the newest in Toruń, was built in 2013-2015. Officially opened on 12 December 2015, it became the new seat of the Toruń Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, out of 22 projects submitted to the international competition for a Concert Hall in Toruń, the concept by the Spanish architect Fernando Menis, the founder of the practice Menis Arquitectos SLP, was selected. The Culture and Congress Centre consists of four modules, which contain a concert hall with 882 seats, a Chamber Hall with 287 seats, conference rooms, a café, offices, and a two-storey underground car park with 185 parking spaces.
St. Jacob’s Church
The cornerstone of the church was laid by Herman, the bishop of Chełmno, in 1309. We know this date thanks to the fact that it has been commemorated in capital letters on decorative glazed bricks surrounding the interior of the presbytery. The church has always served as a parish, passing through the hands of its founders, i.e. the Teutonic Knights, through Cistercian and Benedictine nuns as well as Lutherans, to return in mid-19th century into the hands of the nuns. Despite being the youngest and smallest gothic church in Toruń, it stands out owing to its balance and architectural features, constituting an example of a sacred building in a rare in these parts basilica layout. The most valuable monuments within it are its rich and valuable medieval wall paintings as well as numerous examples of Gothic art, e.g. the ‘Tree of Life’ Cross, a painting of Christ’s Passion, many statues and sculptures, and a unique 17th-century organ casing.
Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The construction of the brick church started in 1343 by Franciscans, who arrived in the town shortly after its foundation in 1239. The monumental gothic temple, preserved to this day, is the third – or perhaps even fourth – church built in this spot. In accordance with the strict Franciscan principles, from the very start the structure had no tower, only a peak decorated with three turrets. The church is also important for the history of the Academic Gymnasium, a semi-high school associated with outstanding figures of Toruń, not only in the past. The church’s interior is dominated by monumental Gothic frescoes from the 14th century, Baroque and Rococo altarpieces, a Renaissance organ, a pulpit, and epitaphs of Toruń’s patrician families. In the presbytery, next to the Rococo high altar, there are the beautifully carved Gothic choir stalls from the first half of the 15th century, and a Baroque mausoleum of Anna Vasa of Sweden.
Cultural Centre for Young People
The building of the Cultural Centre for Young People is situated on the plot of land given to the Municipal Defence Service in 1489. The first mentions about the building date back to the late 18th century. The Concert Hall of the Centre was formerly used for training by the members of the Service. The hall is known for its original stage and balcony as well as stucco decoration of the ceiling and walls with neo-baroque motifs of acanthus leaves. Since 1952 the building has been home to the Cultural Centre for Young People, which aims to educate people receptive to the arts, prospective artists as well as active participants in social activities.