The Wenecja locality’s history is associated with the figure of Mikołaj Nałęcz of Chomiąża who in 14th century built a castle on the isthmus between the three lakes. As he saw his new residence similar to Venice in terms of its situation features, he named the site Wenecja (Polish for ‘Venice’). Wenecja was granted municipal rights in 1411 and maintained them into 16th century. Their loss was caused by changed political arrangements, as combined with a lessened importance of the castle in the strategic map of Poland after 2nd Peace Treaty of Toruń (Thorn) in 1466.
The castle was built by Mikołaj Nałęcz of Chomiąża around 1395, as a stone edifice intertwined with brick elements, founded on a square plan, side length 33 m. Its convenient situation between the three lakes has increased its value as a fortress. The castle was a notorious place for almost the entire period of its existence. In the initial years, this was so because of Mikołaj Nałęcz who, being a judge of Kalisz, had made a name for himself due to extremely cruel verdicts he was passing, which won him the nickname of the Wenecja Devil. Others believe that the sobriquet was coined in the course of a cruel civil war that rumbled through the area of Wielkopolska in 1382 to 1385. As Wenecja was taken over by the Gniezno bishopric, the castle was last upgraded in 1435, the works being led by Gregor of Ossek, brought along from Moravia. The castle was surrounded then with an additional pentagonal wall and a dirt wall; moreover, the stronghold was furnished with canons launching stone balls of diameters 3.4cm to 25cm. At that time, a gaol for priests sentenced by an ecclesial court was in operation there. As the 2nd Peace of Thorn was entered into in 1466, the castle ultimately lost its military significance and its slow decline is dated ever since.
Today, the castle is a picturesque ruin to which tourists visiting the nearby Narrow-Gauge Railway Museum and sightseeing other attractions on the Piast Route willingly pay visits.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.