he story about the Masovian Duke Konrad Mazowiecki, who in 1228 invited the Teutonic Order to polish lands, probably was heard by almost everyone. But only few people know, that the group, which then came to settle the Chełmno Land, consisted of only two knights and a small unit of soldiers! These two knights were Philip von Halle and Heinrich Böhme who settled on a wooden stronghold on the left bank of the Vistula River, named Vogelsang. Two years later a squad of five brothers, led by Hermann von Balk (d. 1239), joined them to cross the river and move to Nieszawa, located about 10 kilometers to the west. There they organized a small bridgehead, whose strategic element - according to the tradition - was to be a huge oak substituting a tower. The German chronicler Peter from Dusburg wrote in the 14th century that the knights fought a bloody battle with the Prussians over this oak.
"TOWER ON OAK TREE" BY A XV CENTURY ARTIST, THE PRUSSIANS ARE DEPICTED HERE IN TURKISH COSTUMES
ow difficult were the beginnings of Teutonic Order in a new land can be proven by the chronicler's mention that the knights always kept boats on standby to be able to hide from the Prussians on the other bank of Vistula. From here they began the conquest the lands inhabited by the Prussian tribes. However, as a result of frequent floods, the fortification called the tower on oak tree was often being flooded. This prompted the Teutonic Knights to resettle upstream again, to an old Slavic settlement Postolsk, where they built brick fortifications.
THE COURTYARD OF THE UPPER CASTLE WITH FOUNDATIONS OF THE MAIN TOWER
he Postolsk stronghold was probably in such a good condition that with relatively small financial expenses it could give temporary shelter to the new Teutonic administration. Soon the wooden-earth ramparts, erected by the previous inhabitants of the settlement,
were completed with a stone wall, the relics of which have been preserved in the northeastern part of the ruins. This small investment had paid off because during the first Prussian uprising (1242-46) the modernized fortification turned out to be one of the few that resisted the Prussian and Pomeranian siege. After the rebellion was suppressed, the Order began to strengthen its power on the conquered land. The first known Toruń commander was Rabe, mentioned in 1251.
VIEW OF THE UPPER CASTLE FROM THE SOUTH
rom the year 1255 comes a note about the construction of the castle wall and a tower - it mentions a donation of 10 grzywnas, gave for this purpose by bishop Heinrich of Sambia. In 1263 the bishop of Warmia, Anselm, promised an indulgence to all who supported the construction of the castle chapel. At the same time, a refectory, a kitchen and a dormitory were built. Coming back to bishop Heinrich's donation, apparently it didn't contribute much, as tower wasn't completed until the end of the 13th century or even until the first quarter of the 14th century. At about the same time the builders erected a dansker and an eastern wing with a chapterhouse and cloisters.
THE CASTLE SHORTLY BEFORE ITS DEMOLITION IN THE XVTH CENTURY, A REPRODUCTION OF W. ZIEGLER'S PAINTING
he location of Toruń made it a strong economic center and a significant exporter of goods, mainly agricultural products. During the reign of commander Frederick von Wenden (1397-1407), more than 500 horses, 3000 sheep, 400 cattle and about 600 pigs belonged to the commandery of Toruń. In addition to large amount of grain and fatstock, the castle also possessed a lot of food supplies. Especially the quantity of meat, its products and animal fats was impressive. In 1407 the following were kept here: 200 halves of pork or beef, 240 pigs, 38 oxen (which were still alive), 5000 cheeses, 3 salted oxen, 4 barrels of butter, 16 barrels of lard, 4 cubic meters of herring, 2 and a half barrels of sturgeons, 3 barrels of cod, 4 cubic meters of pea and 18 barrels of salt.
CASTLE CELLARS WHERE FOOD SUPPLIES WERE STORED
owever, the equipment of the armory seemed much more modest. 93 armours, 82 helmets, 40 shields and 80 crossbows stored in the castle arsenal in 1407 were much less than those kept in Malbork and Gdańsk, and even less than in the smaller castles like Dzierzgoń, Bałga and Ostróda. Nevertheless, as one of the oldest in the whole state, the Toruń castle played an important role in the administrative structure of the Order. Until the first half of the fifteenth century, Toruń commanders belonged to a small group of trusted advisors to great masters. One of them, Konrad von Erlichshausen (d. 1449), was even elected by the chapter in 1441 to perform this function.
SKETCH WITH A VIEW OF THE CITY MADE BY M. ZELLER IN 1652
THE LETTER "I" MARKS THE RUINED UPPER CASTLE
uring the Great Polish-Teutonic War of 1409-11 the city supported the Order, giving its army a unit of 214 townspeople commanded by mayor Albrecht Rothe. After the battle of Grunwald, in which two former Toruń commanders Albrecht von Schwarzburg and Johann von Sayn were killed, the city for three weeks resisted attempts to capture it, but finally opened the gates and let the Polish army in, which took place on August 7, 1410. The king entrusted the care of the castle to castellan of Nakło, Wincenty of Granowo (d. 1410), and after his quick and mysterious death, to the marshal Zbigniew of Brzezie, coat of arms of Zadora (d. 1425). Władysław Jagiełło came to Toruń with a small procession on 29 September 1410 ovationally welcomed by townspeople. However, he was not always so solemnly welcomed in Toruń. In 1404, during an official visit to the grand master Konrad von Jungingen (d. 1407), a cook poured some slop all over Jagiełlło. She was then quickly captured and sentenced to drowning, but the king himself intervened on her behalf and the woman was pardoned. It is not known whether she did it on purpose or by accident.
PANORAMA OF THE CITY WITH CASTLE RUINS, E. DAHLBERG 1656
he Polish occupation of the castle lasted until February 1, 1411, when, by virtue of the First Toruń Peace, the crew stationed here was obliged to leave. Eberhardt von Waldenfels became the Toruń commander, who soon significantly strengthened its fire power. In 1413, the commandery already had 19 guns, including 4 stone bullet guns, 6 light cannons, and 9 harkquebuses. In addition, the castle arsenal was equipped with 496 lead balls, half a cetnar of lead, 3 barrels of gunpowder and half a barrel of saltpeter. The Teutonic seat was threatened by the Polish troops twice more, in 1414 and 1422, but attempts to conquer it were ineffective. In 1428, fifteen friars lived in the castle, whose names are known thanks to preserved documents. The members of the convent owned at that time, apart from armaments, two or three horses each, but one of the knights, Ludwik von Landecke, as well as the house commandant, had as many as six horses each.
RUIN OF THE NORTHERN WING WITH RESIDENTIAL CELLS
he prolonged Polish-Teutonic conflicts led to difficult financial situation of the Order, which was forced to borrow money from rich Toruń townspeople. However, these loans were not sufficient to cover the current operating costs, so that technical condition of the castle in the middle of the 15th century became getting worse and worse and finally was so bad that the building risked collapse. This was certainly also influenced by the fire that destroyed part of the castle in 1420. The witnesses of this event informed that no one was in a hurry to save the castle, and some of them even enjoyed it. It clearly shows the then very bad relations between Teutonic Knights and Toruń townsmen, which resulted from the oppressive fiscalism imposed by the Order in the first half of the fifteenth century.
CASTLE DANSKER IN 1745
he history of castle ends in 1454, shortly after the outbreak of the anti Teutonic Uprising in Prussia, which turned into a Polish-Teutonic war. At the beginning of February, the Prussian Union terminated the obedience to the Order and submited to the authority of the Polish king. Toruń was one of the first cities to join the Union's decision. The rebellion started here on February 6, 1454, when Toruń townspeople began firing on the castle, where the officials and their favorites hid. Although the attack did not do any great harm to defenders, due to their low morale and poor supplies, commander Albrecht Kalb surrendered the fortress on 8 February. Shortly after the castle was seized, the municipal council ordered to demolish its fortifications and the main tower. Only dansker (latrine tower), the hospital and part of the utility buildings were left. The post-castle area served later as a landfill, and the bailey was used to build there
the Bourgeois House, erected with bricks acquired from demolished Teutonic seat.
BOURGEOIS HOUSE BUILT OF BRICKS OBTAINED FROM THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE, POSTCARD FROM 1910
LATRINE TOWER, AN EARLY 20TH CENTURY DRAWING
t the beginning of the 17th century, part of the castle walls were incorporated into the system of bastion city fortifications, and the former latrine tower was adapted to a gunpowder store. At that time, the castle grounds were dominated by tanners and dyers who used Struga Toruńska river to manufacture their products. In the 18th century, new buildings appeared here: Generałówka, distillery, city hospital, and some of the older ones have changed their functions: e.g. the Bourgeois House and the castle mill were partly converted into tenements. In the 19th century a city garden was arranged on the site of the former Teutonic stronghold, and in 1815 its southern part was taken over by a military garrison.
POSTCARD FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY
n the 1920s, the castle walls were secured for the first time and the gate underwent restoration. However, real archaeological work began only in 1958, and apart from a strictly research objective, it was supposed to provide the basis for a detailed site layout plan. Until 1966, the courtyard and the cellars were exposed, the vaults underwent reconstruction and new floors were laid. The latrine tower received a new roof as well, that restored its original Gothic character. In the ruins, which have been partially revitalized, the museum was opened. In 1997, the Toruń Old Town and the castle ruins were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
RUINS AT THE TURN OF THE 1960S AND 1970S, IN THE FOREGROUND YOU CAN SEE FOUNDATIONS OF MAIN TOWER
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE RUINS, THE PHOTO COMES FROM 1995
TEUTONIC COMMANDERS IN TORUŃ
Otto von Schleiz 1255
Hartmut von Kronberg 1257- 1259,
Heinrich von Mosebach 1260-1262,
Heinrich 1269-1270, 1282,
Albert von Ippelensdorf 1274-1277,
Ludwig 1278, 1285-1286,
Kuno von Hattstein 1283,
Heinrich von Uberlingen 1289,
Heinrich von Byern 1292,
Konrad Stange 1293-1296,
Konrad Sack 1299-1302,
Heinrich von Dobin 1303-1306,
Luther von Sparenberg 1320-1326,
Hugo von Almenhausen 1326-1327,
Ulrich von Haugwitz 1327-1328,
Heinrich Rube 1330,
Marquard von Sparenburg 1331-1337,
Alexander von Korner 1338,
Heinrich von Bovenden 1339-1340,
Dietrich von Spira 1342-1344,
Johann Nothaft 1346-1350,
Dietrich von Brandenburg 1352-1374,
Konrad von Kalemunt 1375-1381,
Baldewin von Frankenhofen 1381-1383,
Siegfried Walpot von Bassenheim 1383-1384,
Ludwig Wafeler 1384-1389,
Wolf von Zolnhart 1389-1392,
Engelhard Rabe 1392-1397,
Friedrich von Wenden 1397-1407,
Albrecht von Schwarzburg 1407-1410,
Johann von Sayn 1410,
Eberhard von Waldenfels 1411 -1413,
Henryk Holt 1413-1416,
Jan von Selbach 1416,
Ludwik von Landsee 1416-1418, 1428-1431,
Ulryk Zenger 1418-1420,
Jobst von Hohenkirchen 1420-1422,
Marcin Kemnate 1422-1424,
Henryk Marschalk 1424-1428,
Jan von Pommersheim 1431-1433,
Wincenty von Wirsberg 1433-1436,
Wilhelm von Helfenstein 1436-1437, 1440-1441,
Konrad von Erlichshausen 1437, 1438-1440,
Henryk von Rabenstein 1437-1438,
Eberhard von Wesenthau 1440,
Hans von Beenhausen 1441-1446,
Albrecht Kalb 1446-1454,
DANSKER IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY AND TODAY, NOTE THE RECONSTRUCTED DORMERS ON THE ARCADE PORCH AND THE NEW TOWER ROOF
he castle was one of the few Teutonic strongholds in Prussia built on an irregular plan. Its shape probably resulted from the ramparts outline of the earlier fortifications and the contour of the hill, but it was also influenced by watercourses: the wide Vistula to the south, the Bostolz stream to the west, and further on, the moat of the Old Town, a tributary of the Mokra River to the east, and the so-called Commander's Pond. The oldest part of the upper castle is a horseshoe-shaped brick perimeter wall and a two-storey, fully cellared building, attached to its southern section, founded on a plan of an elongated rectangle measuring 12x54 meters and covered with a large gabled roof. Its cellars and ground floor were used as utility rooms, while the first floor housed living quarters and representative chambers.
CASTLE RECONSTRUCTION FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE XV CENTURY, AUTHOR UNKNOWN
he eastern part of the southern wing housed a two-aisle,
cross-ribbed vaultedSt. Cross Chapel, erected in the first phase of castle construction. The chapel was distinguished by a very rich decor and iconography emphasizing the missionary ideology of the Teutonic Order in Prussia. It was adjacent to a similarly covered
refectory, and next to a
dormitory, which was covered with a wooden ceiling. Under it there was a kitchen, composed of two barrel vaulted chambers, equipped with a stove and a chimney. The cellars located nearby may have been used to store fresh food, while the attics occupying the top floor served as a grain warehouse.
t the end of the 13th century or, at the latest, in the first quarter of the 14th century, a two-storey eastern wing was erected, the central part of which housed a cross-ribbed vaulted
chapterhouse. The chamber was decorated with sharp-edged gothic windows with profiled frames and openwork tracerys as well as with a sharp-edged recess under one of the windows. In its basement a hypocaustum type furnace was placed, which heated chambers above it. The eastern wing had an
arcaded porch, connecting it with a
latrine tower (dansker), situated 32 meters away from castle. The tower was built on a square plan with sides of 10x10 meters, and originally perhaps had an octagonal cylinder top. In its western pillar there was a rectangular shaft (90×120 cm) running through its entire height, which was open at the bottom towards Struga Toruńska, where the sewage was disposed of.
ll premises on the ground and first floors of the southern and eastern wings were connected by a brick
cloister. It led along the southern wing, to the refectory and the chapel, connecting these chambers with the chapterhouse in the eastern wing, and then led to a
commander's private chamber in the northern wing. Around the year 1400, the arcades of the cloister were bricked up and converted into small living quarters. The communication function was then taken over by a
staircase, located in an annex standing in the south-eastern part of the courtyard.
ENTRANCE TO THE CASTLE CHAPEL
RELICS OF THE CLOISTERS IN THE EASTERN WING
resumably, at the end of the 14th century, in the northern part of the courtyard a number of
narrow premises were erected, ranging in width from 3 metres on the western side to 7 metres on the eastern side. This wing was filled with a sequence of rooms occupying two or three storeys, which on the ground floor served as cells for friars or as dwellings for servants, and in the wider eastern part could be occupied by senior officials such for example the commander. It was close to the massive octagonal
bergfried - a free-standing tower of the last defence with a diameter of 10 metres and a height of up to 40 metres. In its basement there was a prison dungeon, to which the convicts were descended by rope or ladder. The upper castle was surrounded by an external defensive wall, in the northern and western part preceded by a 10-13 meter wide trench. From the south and the east Vistula and Struga Toruńska rivers provided supplementary protection.
PLAN OF THE UPPER CASTLE: 1. DORMITORY, 2. REFECTORY, 3. CASTLE CHAPEL, 4. CHAPTERHOUSE,
5. COMMANDER'S CHAMBER (?), 6. LIVING QUARTERS, 7. MAIN TOWER, 8. PORCH, 9. LATRINE TOWER,
10. CLOISTER, 11. STAIRCASE, 12. ENTRANCE GATE TO THE COURTYARD, 13. INTERWALLS
he entrance to castle courtyard led from the west, through a gate leading to an upper bailey, which was surrounded by fortifications, equipped with four towers and two or three gate buildings. The daily life of monastic service was focused on that area: here stood a house with a minter's flat, soldiers' quarters, an infirmary, as well as a complex of farm buildings, including animal farms, a wood warehouse, a bakery, a brewery, a forge, a coach house and stables. From the east, the castle was adjacent to a lower bailey with a castle mill and a Mill Gate. South of it, behind the walls, marshy areas extended, which in the 14th century were transformed into a fish pond called Commander's Pond. Communication with the Vistula shore was provided by the second eastern gate - a Mint Gate, located in the south-eastern corner of the fortress.
MEDIEVAL PLAN OF THE OLD AND NEW TOWN ACCORDING TO "DIE BAU- UND KUNSTDENKMAELER DER KREISES THORN", 1899:
1. UPPER CASTLE, 2. UPPER BAILEY, 3. LOWER BAILEY, 4. OLD TORUŃ, 5. NEW TORUŃ, 6. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHEDRAL,
7. TOWN HALL, 8. BLESSED VIRGIN MARY CHURCH, 9. NEW TOWN SQUARE, 10. ST. JACOB CHURCH,
11. DOMINICAN MONASTERY (IN RUINS))
he ruins are located on Przedzamcze Street, about 350 meters southeast of the Old Town Market Square. Those travelling by train should get off at the Toruń Miasto stop, about 700 meters away from the castle, and then head west.
I recommend leaving Your car in one of the parking lots located outside the very centre, e.g. in a comfortable underground car park situated in
the Centre for Modern Art at Wały Gen. Władysława Sikorskiego Street. A walk to the Old Market takes only a few minutes from here.
1. W. Antkowiak, P. Lamparski: Zamki i strażnice krzyżackie ziemi chełmińskiej, Graffiti BC 1999
2. M. Haftka: Zamki krzyżackie w Polsce, 1999
3. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
4. I. Malawska: Ruiny krzyżackiego zamku konwentualnego na planie nieregularnym w Toruniu..., NID
5. B. Rymaszewski: Problematyka konserwatorska zamku krzyżackiego w Toruniu, Ochrona Zab. 27/3 1974
6. R. Sypek: Zamki i obiekty warowne Państwa Krzyżackiego, Agencja CB 2000
7. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
8. B. Wasik: Początki krzyżackich zamków na ziemi chełmińskiej, Archaeologia Historica Polona 24/2016
9. P. Zaniewski: Szlakami zamków krzyżackich, Muza 2005
EASTERN WING, IN THE BACKGROUND WE CAN SEE THE PORCH OF THE LATRINE TOWER
LOWER BAILEY WITH A MILL (NOW A HOTEL) - IN PLACE OF THE COMMANDANT'S POND THERE IS NOW A FOOTBALL FIELD
Castles nearby: Toruń - the royal castle Dybów (in ruins) from the 15th century, 2.5 km Mała Nieszawka - the relics of Teutonic castle from the 14th century, 5 km Złotoria - the royal castle ruins from the 14th century, 10 km
Bierzgłowo - the Teutonic castle from the 13th century, 21 km Kowalewo Pomorskie - the relics of Teutonic castle from the 13th century, 27 km
Raciążek - the bishops' castle ruins from the 14th century, 29 km
Medieval City Complex in Toruń, registered in 1997 on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which, besides the ruins of the castle includes the historic buildings of two formerly separate urban organisms: the Old and the New Town, representing the best achievements of Gothic brick architecture in Europe. The central part of the Old Town is the Old Town Square with
the Old Town Hall,
St. Mary's Church, a late Baroque
church of the Holy Spirit and multi-coloured Gothic tenements, as well as
the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus and
the fountain with raftsman and
. Among the colourful buildings situated around the square, attention is drawn to
the Artus Manor House, a neo-Renaissance copy of the building where the Second Toruń Peace was signed in 1466, as well as to beautiful bourgeois tenement houses, including
the Under the Star tenement house owned by the 15th century Italian humanist and royal secretary Filippo Buonaccorsi.
Streets leading to the waterfront remind us of the Hanseatic tradition of the city. In one of them there are
two merchant tenement houses, seemingly nothing different from many other beautiful examples of Gothic architecture, but especially interesting because of Nicolaus Copernicus, who was probably born in one of them in February 1473. Now, they house a museum dedicated to the life and discoveries of this great astronomer. One of the characteristic points of the Old Town is the tower of
St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist church with a clock placed in such way that it could be seen from ships sailing by river or standing in the harbour. Its counterpart in New Toruń was
the church of St. James built near
the New Town Square. The borders of historical city centres are traced by very well-preserved fragments of
medieval walls, particularly beautiful on the Vistula side, with numerous gates and towers. The most characteristic is
the Leaning Tower, whose deviation from the vertical is almost one and a half meters.
Toruń is full of great museums, so it is worth taking some time to visit at least some of them. In the 'must see' category, the leading positions are taken by places dedicated to the history of traditional Toruń baking. One of them is the Museum of Toruń Gingerbread, located at Strumykowa Street, in the building of the former Gustaw Wesse's factory, now belonging to Kopernik confectionery factory. In its post-industrial interiors, an exposition has been organized about this most popular Toruń delicacy. Its part named Gingerbread origins shows the beginnings of gingerbread making in Toruń and the development of this craftsmanship over the centuries. The interactive Sensual World of Gingerbread, on the other hand, presents the ingredients of gingerbread dough and the spices used to make it, while Gingerbread in the living room, kitchen, shop and club brings us to more modern times by presenting forms of its advertising, sale and degustation. An integral part of the tour is participation in workshops, during which tourists prepare their own gingerbread to take back ready-made baked goods at the end of the tour.
The Toruń History Museum is located in a fourteenth-century brick granary, nowadays known as the Esken's House. You can see here a fascinating exhibition presenting in a modern and interactive way the history of the city from the beginnings of the settlement to our times, as well as everyday life of its inhabitants in all aspects. We begin our adventure with history from the period when Toruń only grew as the centre of social and economic life of the region, and we end with a sentimental (for some) return to the communist reality accented with everyday objects and boards depicting the most important events of those days. The tour is complemented by a 3D movie showing selected moments from history of the city. Younger tourists can - with the help of large-format puzzles - arrange buildings characteristic for a given period, dress dummies in historical costumes and set the table with antique tableware. The Esken's House stands at the corner of Ciasna and Łazienna Streets, about 150 meters west of the castle.
The Philadelphia Boulevard, which is the most popular walking place in Toruń outside its historic centre. The picturesque promenade extends for almost 2 kilometers along the southern walls of the Old Town, and its unusual name comes from Philadelphia - a twin city. Years ago, there was a harbour here of fundamental importance to this center. Today the only ships that dock at the shore are river cruisers sailing on Vistula. In 1969, the place was the scene of filming the iconic Polish comedy entitled The Cruise. Today, this fact is reminded by a graphical composition placed on a nearby wall, containing the best quotations from memorable dialogues spoken by the participants of the title cruise.