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.
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. 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).