The Kuyavian-Pomeranian province is a picturesque and interesting region with medieval ruins, Gothic buildings and wild forests. It has two capitals, the dynamic commercial city of Bydgoszcz and the postcard-pretty Gothic city of Torun, which was spared damage during war and was able to retain much of its historic architecture. It also has the hot springs of the spa town of Ciechocinek along the Vistula River, the town of Biskupin with its life-sized replica of an Iron Age community, and the lush 12,000 acres of woodland and pristine lakes of the Bory Tucholskie National Park.
In the heart of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian province on both banks of the Vistula River, Torun ranks next to Cracow among Polish cities in terms of sheer quantity of Gothic structures and art.
The city was founded in the 13th century, and was mostly spared the ravages of battles and wars that swept through Poland’s turbulent history. The magnificent Gothic Old City Town Hall is its crown jewel, surrounded by great Gothic-style houses.
Remarkably preserved and wisely emphasized, these historical treasures make Torun a favourite tourist destination. Splendid red-brick, Gothic cathedrals and tenement houses abound in this wonderful Old Town. A particular favourite is the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus on Kopernika Street, a well-maintained example of a burgher house. The city has kept its medieval-era defense walls, complete with turrets and gates.
A concrete reminder of German influence on Torun’s history and culture is Teutonic Knights' castle, built during the era of Teutonic rule over the Pomeranian portion of the province. Torun’s Prussian connections are preserved in the Torun Citadel, a fortress with a perimetre of individual forts, connected by their own road and telephone network. Only a portion is open to the public, with one fort used as a hostel and tourist centre.
Bydgoszcz is one of Poland’s major economic and financial centres, with nearly 50,000 companies operating in the capital in diverse fields, notably in food processing, telecommunication and chemical manufacturing. Famed for three cavernous granaries, this major inland port city is crisscrossed by the Oder and Vistula rivers and the Bydgoszcz Canal. Built in the late 18th century, the 27-kilometre canal connected the river systems of Western and Eastern Europe. Its unique hydro-technical system has been maintained well over the centuries, and the park that surrounds it has around 40 ancient black poplar trees.
The waterways and natural greenery of Bydgoszcz provide a scenic backdrop to the city’s Art Nouveau architecture.