Composers / Fryderyk Chopin / Places catalog

Toruń

In 1231, the Teutonic Knights, under the leadership of Hermann von Balk, built a defensive settlement, from where they subjugated Prussian tribes. Two years later, Toruń was granted a municipal charter (together with neighbouring Chełmno). That makes it one of Poland’s oldest cities.

The Congress of Vienna (1815) that followed the defeat of Napoleon decided that the city would be part of Prussia, as it had been after the Second Partition of Poland (1793). The new rulers embarked on a massive rebuilding programme that would transform Toruń into a border fortress. This considerably hampered urban development.

There were quite a few people from Toruń in Chopin’s life. The owner of Żelazowa Wola, Ludwika Fenger (later Skarbek), came from Toruń, as did her son (and Chopin’s godfather) Fryderyk Skarbek (1792–1866). Samuel Bogumił Linde, the rector of the Warsaw Lyceum, which Chopin attended, was also born in the city.

Chopin spent his 1824 and 1825 school holidays in Szafarnia, some 40 km from Toruń. Although he is known to have visited Toruń several times, only one written account has survived. When in Toruń, Chopin stayed at the Fengers’ townhouse at ul. Mostowa 14, which belonged to the Skarbek family. In its day, that building, erected in 1742, was one of the city’s most impressive residences.

In 1825, Toruń had a population of around 10,000. Although these were not exactly the city’s halcyon days, it made a great impression on Chopin. He thought that nothing compared with Toruń’s gingerbread cakes and wrote as much to Jan Matuszyński: ‘I will write to you only that the gingerbreads made the greatest impressio upon me’.

Chopin saw the imposing buildings of this fortified city, which had its origins in the Middle Ages. He would have seen a machine that was probably dredging the Vistula, as well as the Cathedral Basilica of SS John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (from the tower hangs Tuba Dei, cast in 1500, the second-largest mediaeval bell in Poland). The Gothic town hall, built at the end of the fourteenth century, made a really strong impression. Chopin mentioned the legend about the building being modelled on the calendar, i.e. its single tower symbolised one year, its four gates the four seasons, its twelve large halls the months of the year and every window a day of the year. Legend has it that the townspeople put an extra window in the building every leap year to keep it in line with the calendar.

The fifteen-metre-high Leaning Tower of Toruń that Chopin mentions is definitely one of the architectural attractions of the city. It was perpendicular when it was built in the latter half of the thirteenth century and has only leaned over with time. In 2007, the top of the tower was 146 cm off the vertical.

Chopin also visited the house then considered to be the birthplace of the great astronomer Copernicus, at what is now ul. Kopernika 40. Chopin’s description in his letter to Matuszyński is worth quoting in full: ‘Imagine, Dear Jaś, in that corner, in that room, where that famous astronomer received the gift of life, there now stands the bed of some German, who doubtless, having eaten his fill of potatoes, often releases into the air rather frequently repeated zephyrs, and over those bricks, of which one was sent to Puławy with great ceremony, more than a few little bedbugs crawl. That’s how it is, my brother! The German pays no heed to who lived in this house; he allows himself to do on the entire wall what Princess Czartoryska would not do on one tiny brick’.

Copernicus is now generally believed to have been born in the house at ul. Kopernika 15–17, although the most recent research suggests that his birthplace might have been the building at Rynek Staromiejski 36, where his father also had a home.

Place Category
Antonin Manors / Palaces / Castles
Antoni Brzezina’s bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Apartment of Dominik Magnuszewski Flats
Apartment of Stefan Witwicki Flats
Apartment of the family of Alfons Brandt Flats
Augsburg Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity Churches / Places of worship
Belvedere Appearances
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Blue Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
‘Botanika’ Other
Brochów Churches / Places of worship
Brühl Palace Appearances
Buchholtz’s instrument store Other
Casimir Palace Flats
Chopin Monument in Łazienki Park Other
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Dal Trozzo bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Duszniki Zdrój Hotels / Inns
Dziewanowski home Flats
Engraving studio of Fr Izydor Józef Cybulski and Antoni Płachecki Education
Franciszek Klukowski bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Fryderyk Chopin Museum Other
Fryderyk Skarbek’s apartment Flats
Gdańsk Hotels / Inns
Gładkowskis' apartment Flats
Golub Other
Holy Cross Church Churches / Places of worship
Home of Jan Matuszyński Flats
‘Honoratka’ Coffeehouses
Jabłonowski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Jan Böhm’s townhouse Flats
Kalisz Other
Kikół Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kolbergs' apartment Flats
Kowalewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kozłowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Krakow Other
Ludwik Dmuszewski’s house Flats
Magnus's bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Marceli Celiński’s apartment Flats
Maurycy Mochnacki’s home Flats
Miss Kicka's Salon in Lubomirski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
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Obory Churches / Places of worship
Obrowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Ojców Other
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Patisserie Lourse Coffeehouses
Pieskowa Skała Other
Płock Other
‘Pod Kopciuszkiem’ and ‘Dziurka’ Coffeehouses
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Powązki Cemeteries
Poznań Other
Presbytery of St Jadwiga (Hedwig) parish church in Milanówek Other
Pruszak Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Residence of Józef Reinschmidt’s parents Flats
Rościszewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Sanniki Manors / Palaces / Castles
Saxon Palace Flats
Saxon Post Office Other
Skating rink Other
Sochaczew Other
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Strzyżew Manors / Palaces / Castles
Szafarnia Manors / Palaces / Castles
Toruń Other
Turzno Manors / Palaces / Castles
Ugoszcz Manors / Palaces / Castles
‘U Brzezińskiej’ Coffeehouses
Viceroy's Palace Appearances
Vilnius (Wileński) Hotel Hotels / Inns
Visitandine Church of St Joseph Churches / Places of worship
Waplewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Warsaw Other
Warsaw Charitable Society Appearances
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Wieliczka Other
Wojciech Żywny’s apartment Flats
Wola Tollhouse Other
Wrocław Appearances
Żelazowa Wola Flats
Żychlin Manors / Palaces / Castles