The fortified tower, known as the Leaning Tower, Toruń
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The fortified tower, known as the Leaning Tower

Toruń

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The historical monument is located in the area known as “Toruń - the Old and New Town Districts”, designated as a monument of history; it is an example of a typical fortified tower forming part of a complex of medieval defensive walls. Due to the instability of the underlying soil and the resulting subsidence, the tower has begun tilting towards the side, thus becoming one of the symbols of the medieval city of Toruń.

History

The fortified tower was erected towards the end of the 13th century or in the early 14th century. It was subsequently redesigned and modernised on numerous occasions due to the need to adjust its structure to the changing needs of contemporary warfare; later on, the purpose of the tower kept on changing, necessitating further alterations. According to I. Sławiński, who conducted an architectural survey of the tower during the 1970s, the structure was erected in several phases.

The first phase, which took place towards the end of the 13th century and in the early 14th century, was linked with the construction of the section of the Old Town perimeter wall leading alongside the Vistula river. During the second phase (first half of the 14th century), the fortified tower was most likely a three-storey structure, consisting of a basement, a ground-floor level and a first-floor level with a doorway leading out onto the walkway at the top of the wall. During the third phase (second half of the 14th century), the tower was extended upwards, with the second, third and fourth storeys being added. At the very top, the tower featured a fighting platform surrounded with a crenellated parapet. During the fourth phase (15th century), the embrasures between the merlons were bricked up, most likely in order to provide support for the new roof truss structure. During the 15th century, the tower began tilting away from the vertical position, as evidenced by the leaning openings inside the structure. During the fifth phase of the construction process, which most likely took place in the 18th century, certain structural changes were made due to the increasing tilt, including the redesign of the ceilings and staircase; these changes were also brought about by the fact that the tower was being adapted to serve as a place of solitary confinement for women. During the sixth phase (first half of the 19th century), a timber-framed wall at the ground-floor and first-floor level was added on the inner side of the tower facing the city. The basement level received a new, vaulted ceiling during the same period, with a staircase leading from the ground floor to the basement also being added. The tower also received a new, mono-pitched roof clad with roofing felt. All these alterations coincided with yet another change in the tower’s purpose - in 1926, the structure began serving as a smithy, with an apartment of the gunsmith located directly above. During the seventh phase (second half of the 19th century - early 20th century), the timber-framed walls at the ground-floor and first-floor level were replaced with brick structures; an external staircase leading into the first floor was also added, with a number of interior partitions being erected inside. In addition, the tower’s occupants could now take advantage of modern utilities - water, sewage, gas and electricity. The tower continued to serve residential purposes until 1973.

Description

The Leaning Tower is situated at 1/3 Pod Krzywą Wieżą street (Leaning Tower street). The fortified tower forms the south-western corner of the medieval defensive walls designed to protect the Old Town district against potential attackers. It forms part of the section of the defensive wall spanning between the Monastery Gate and the exit from Kopernika street, where the Old Toruń Gate had once stood.

The Gothic fortified tower was designed on a rhombus-shaped plan. It is a four-storey structure with a simple, compact outline, featuring a projecting dansker on the western side, positioned at the first-floor level. The dansker (garderobe), which was reconstructed in the modern times, was designed on a quarter-circular plan and occupies the space inside the corner formed by the façade of the tower and the outer side of the city wall. A modern, wooden staircase leading up to the first-floor level, protected by a separate rooflet, adjoins the eastern side of the tower. The tower itself is covered with a mono-pitched roof, its eastern, southern and western sides concealed beneath the roof parapet. The tower leans towards the north at about 6 degrees.

The eastern, southern and western walls are made of exposed brick, with the Polish (Gothic) bond being used up to the first-floor level, while the upper section of the structure features a monk bond instead. In addition, the walls are adorned with Gothic recessed friezes marking the original boundaries between individual storeys as well as a convex frieze running beneath the roof parapet, adorned with a clover motif. The northern side of the tower features a number of slightly overhanging storeys with timber-framed walls with brick infills.

The ground-floor level and the upper levels of the tower contain a stairway positioned inside the eastern wall as well as a single room on each level. The decorative stoves at the second- and third-floor levels are modern replicas.

The structure can be viewed from the outside; the building currently serves as a restaurant.

compiled by Robert Kola and Leszek Kotlewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Toruń, 22-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Sławiński I., Badania architektoniczne baszty Krzywej Wieży - przy ul. Krzywej Wieży 1/3 w Toruniu, Toruń 1974, typescript

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: XIII/XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pod Krzywą Wieżą 1/3, Toruń
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district Toruń, commune Toruń
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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