Copernicus House and Torun Castle

The train to Torun was only about an hour, and very worth it. In just a few short hours, I had seen the birthplace of Nicholas Copernicus and Torun Castle. Both places illustrate some things about Poland.

Copernicus is a pretty big deal. It’s not just anyone that has an element in the periodic table AND a lunar crater named after them! He was the first person since ancient Greece to say the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa. He did a lot of other things, too, but that is the big one. He was a Catholic canon who went against Church teaching, not something to take lightly. He seems to represent intellectual independence, which is abundant in Polish history and evident in the present.

Torun castle is just a ruin, but some of the underground parts are accessible, and the “sewage tower” is still standing. There had been some type of fortification on the Vistula River at this spot even before the Teutonic Knights began construction of the castle in 1231. It served as a Teutonic Commander’s residence and was a base from which the Teutonic Order subjugated and Christianized the Old Prussians. Torun was a base of power for the Teutonic Order until 1454. The people in Torun were sick of being treated like slaves and rebelled against the castle, kicking the knights out and destroying the castle. It has been a ruin ever since. It seems to me that Poland has repeated this story over and over. Outsiders move in, the people rise up and assert their independence.
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