The Leaning Tower of Toruń

In the old crown of defensive walls surrounding Toruń for centuries, one of the towers has always been particularly intriguing. The local oddity was named the Leaning Tower. Inclined from the vertical up to more than 140 cm, it has shrouded in numerous legends. It is even said that Toruń owes its name to the tower. The story goes like this: a long time ago, some weary travelers were approaching the city walls when they suddenly heard a peculiar dialogue. The Vistula was scouring the tower’s foundations, humming monotonously. When the tower was just about to fall down, it said to the river: don’t wash me away or I will collapse! The Vistula replied: so do collapse, which in Polish would be: to ruń! The travelers, with “to ruń! to ruń!” echoing in their heads all the time, concluded that it must be the name of the city.

Sometimes, the crooked shape is believed to result from one Teutonic brother’s sinful nature. There was a knight who did not really care about the monastic rules and went on flirting with Torunian townswomen. When the local commander discovered his deeds, he made him – as a way of redemption – build a tower as crooked as his acts.

The second story is particularly worth taking a closer look as it’s the oldest legend of Toruń, told for almost eight hundred years!

There was a time when the Leaning Tower was used as a prison. Actually, it used to be quite a common function for various towers and gates. It all happened in 1742, when an unusual convict was put in the tower, and the way he managed to escape was even more unusual. It was all a nobleman’s fault – Łukasz Konopka, a litigious man. Konopka, a crafty fellow, sued the town for repurchased debts. The judicial battle lasted long enough to finally move onto real battlefield. Two armies stood against each other: the town vs. the litigant. In the end, some of his soldiers got arrested, including one who was put in the tower. However, he wasn’t going to stay there for a long time, and he escaped from the cell straight onto a manure heap, while running away through the latrine! The toilet in the corner of the city walls has remained there up to this day, so it’s easy to imagine the crazy stunt of our short-tempered rascal.

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