Torun - Poland
Torun on the Vistula River is one of the best preserved gothic towns in Poland. Once a wealthy Hanseatic port it is the birthplace (1473) of the world famous astronomer Copernicus and his house is now a museum. This UNESCO World Heritage town has magificent medieval buildings, three superb gothic churches, squares, Leaning Towers, defensive walls, old granaries and museums. The 13th century Church of St. John contains one of the largest bells in Poland. In medieval times, Torun was ruled by Teutonic Knights, who built a castle in 1230 and laid out the present town in 1236. During the 14th century, Torun joined the Hanseatic League and sailed its own merchant fleet in trade with the Netherlands. In 1454 Teutonic rule was overthrown, and Torun flourished under a succession of Polish kings. In 1793 it was seized by Prussia but was returned to Poland in 1919.