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:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.