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 castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.