The medieval town of Varzi is home to a castle built by the Malaspina family in 1164 after inheriting from Frederick Barbarossa the territory from the Rivanazzano Hills to Oramala. The structure is currently owned by the Counts of Odetti di Marcorengo, who in 1983 embarked on a redevelopment process that ended only three years ago, in order to give this gem of architecture back to the community, opening it up to the public.
Today, the castle welcomes guests for events, weddings and local culture initiatives. Its surroundings introduce visitors to renewed splendor: what used to be a vegetable garden is now the wonderful “Garden of the Contessa” and “Limonaia”. The stables have been transformed into “Antique Mangers” that maintain an original arch and stone floors, while the main dining room was created in the old barn. Renovation also extended to the 13th-century ”Antique Ice House” and the cellars, which were used to keep typical local food like wines and cured meat. Once a symbol of the economic and commercial wealth of Varzi, the castle now showcases the gastronomic treasures of the area, including prestigious wines, almond cake, mushrooms and DOP Varzi Salami.
All between folk legends and famous stories, like the one about the castle’s tower, known as “Tower of the Witches”. Some say that during the Inquisition, twenty-five women and a handful of men were imprisoned between the 170-centimeter-thick walls of the tower, accused of witchcraft and later burned at the stake in the square right next to the building.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.