In the past, Toruń was a thriving commercial center, home to many merchants and a place to do business. The Hanseatic heritage and commercial traditions of the city can still be seen when walking along the streets of Toruń’s Old Town. Below you will find a list of places and objects connected with the merchant history of the city.

1. Żeglarska Street

One of the main streets of the Old Town, connecting the Old Town Market Square with today’s Philadelphia Boulevard, was in the past the most representative route. It is here, through the main city gate, that the way was used to introduce the most distinguished guests to the city, including Polish kings. Important figures of Toruń’s merchant community strove to establish their headquarters here. Thus, today in the Żeglarska street one can find, for example, a house that used to belong to Albrecht Reusse, who was the commander of the Hanseatic contingent that had charge of Stockholm (16 Żeglarska street) or the oldest seat of the merchant brotherhood (5 Żeglarska street). At the intersection with Kopernika Street one can find the so-called Avenue of Merchant Marks (Aleja Gmerków). Plaques with merchants’ emblems and names of great patrician families are embedded in the street surface. Merchant mark is a sign used by merchants to mark consignments of goods loaded later on a ship

2. The Old Town Hall

Situated on the main square is the Old Town Hall. The western wing of this magnificent edifice is the Cloth Hall, i.e. the place where cloth imported from Flanders was traded. The building itself is an ingenious compilation of motifs that Toruń drew from their visits to Bruges and Ypres, and the tower of the Town Hall is a variation on the theme of the watchtower and bell tower of the beffroi type. The Town Hall also housed the archive of the Prussian quarter of the Hanseatic League.

3. St. John’s Cathedral

The most magnificent church in Toruń is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, located in Żeglarska Street. The building was erected for several hundred years increasing its size during that time. The construction was crowned in 1500 by hanging the 7-ton bell Tuba Dei on top of the tower. Nicolaus Copernicus was baptized in this church. Inside, in the southern nave you can still see the baptismal font used for this purpose. In the chancel, on the other hand, there is a bronze tombstone of the von Soest couple. John and Margaret were tycoons in the Russian wax trade, and a large part of the raw material passed through their hands, which was then sent to Western Europe. The slab was imported from Bruges. In the church you can find even more objects with an interesting and long history.

4. Copernicus House

The house located at 15 Kopernika Street (today it is a museum together with no. 17) is a typical example of a storehouse, i.e. a building which is at the same time a dwelling and a warehouse of a rich merchant. The shape and decoration of the building bring to mind similar houses scattered around other centers associated in the Hanseatic League. The name of the astronomer who once lived here also refers to the Hanseatic past. Copernicus owes its name to copper (Kupfer – Kopper – Cuprum), which was mined or traded by Nicolaus’ ancestors.

5. Coats of arms of Toruń twin towns

In the pavement of the promenade along Szeroka and Królowej Jadwigi Streets one can find boards with the coats of arms of the cities embedded in the pavement. Important centers of the Hanseatic League as well as its cantors are presented there. Apart from the Hanseatic towns, you can also see the coats of arms of thriving trade centers, which did not belong to the Union, but conducted a lively exchange with the merchants of Toruń.

6. Museum of the History of Toruń

If you want to learn something about the history of the city, you should visit the museum located at the corner of Ciasna and Łazienna Streets. It shows Toruń as a Hanseatic city where trade and craftsmanship flourished, where pottery, shoes and objects of everyday use were made in workshops and where goods were floated down the Vistula River to distant destinations. The exhibition does not omit the history of the New Town of Toruń, more craftsman-like in its character.

7.  Artus Court

One of the monumental buildings located at the Old Town Square (No. 6) is Artus Court. The current building was completed in the late nineteenth century, but stands on the site of previous edifices of this type. The first Artus Court was erected here in the 14th century. It belonged to the elite Brotherhood of St. George, which cultivated various forms of social and religious life. It gathered representatives of the most distinguished patrician families and rich merchants. Associations of this type were characteristic of the cities of Hanseatic Europe.

8. Granaries in Toruń

In the Old Town several dozen granaries have survived to the present day, including some gothic ones. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize their former function, but they testify to the merchant tradition of Toruń. One of the best preserved buildings of this type can be found at the junction of Piekary and Rabiańska Streets. The second of these streets takes its name from the German word der Rabe, i.e. the raven – a bird, which took a liking to this place because of the amount of grain stored in the local granaries.

9. The Vistula river port

Today it is difficult to locate the exact place of the Toruń’s Vistula harbor, which was adapted to receive even seagoing ships already in the Middle Ages. It was to this port that the city owed its thriving development and wealth. Thanks to it, local merchants maintained trade contacts with large parts of Europe, sailing through the Baltic Sea to Scandinavia, northern Germany and further, to Flanders and England. The port was located at the exit of Holy Spirit Street and extended further east to the Sailors’ Gate. Port facilities, piers and cargo warehouses were located in this section.