The City Walls
The beginning of the construction of the municipal walls in Torun dates back to the 1360s. The commercial city that was growing rich and was an important military and administrative centre of the state of the Teutonic Order was surrounded by a system of brick walls, tower dungeons, gates and moats, from which many have remained till today. The fortifications of the New City of Torun were considerably more modest – from the southeastern side there were the walls and St. Jacob’s Gate, and the main entrance to the city from the East was St. Catherine’s Gate (the crossing of today’s St. Catherine and Szuman streets).
The Fortress of Torun was built according to this model, i.e. an external ring of fortifications, one of the most mighty complexes of military objects in Poland and in Europe. The decision to build a modern fortification of Torun was taken by the Prussians after they had won the war with France, when their relations with Russia worsened. Torun had a perfect strategic-operational location, it lay next to the border with Russia and was a place for the railway and road passages over the great river. The design and preparatory works lasted for 5 years. The construction began in 1877 and was carried out in stages until the beginning of the First World War. First, the seven main forts were designed, one intermediate fort and one great battery. However, already after a few years, in connection with a quick development in artillery, these objects became obsolete and considerably more money than their construction was spent on their strengthening and modernization, as well as on adding new intermediate forts intended for the infantry. Altogether, until the First World War, in the administrative borders of today’s Torun, about 200 fortress-like objects were constructed, from which almost 150 have remained till today. Among them, there is more than a dozen of mighty forts which surrounded the city with a ring stretching about 22.5 km around. The fortress of Torun cost the German empire 60 million marks and has never been useful in battle. However, perhaps thanks to its deterrent power, Torun survived the two great wars of the 20th century without greater losses.