The Visconti Castle of Crenna is linked to the fame of Lodrisio Visconti, who raised against and then reconciled with the members of the family of his cousin Matteo Visconti, Lord of Milan. In the 14th century, the castle underwent expansion and destruction according to the alternative fortunes of Lodrisio.
The Visconti Castle is located on the top of the hill overlooking the Arno valley, open on the opposite side to the plain toward Milan. The location, favoring the control of the territory, is believed to be at the origin of the initial settlements and fortifications.
The castle is mentioned for the first time in 1160. At the end of the 13th century, it was received by Pietro Visconti with other nearby castles (Besnate, Orago and Jerago) as part of a division between him and his nephews Matteo and Uberto, sons of his brother Teobaldo. In the neighbouring Gallarate, Teobaldo, after being captured by members of the opposite faction supporting the Della Torre family, was executed in 1276.
The castle was inherited by Lodrisio, son of Pietro, who greatly expanded it. In the meantime his cousin Matteo became Lord of Milan. After the death of Matteo in 1322, a conflict between Lodrisio and his sons aroused. Lodrisio was dislodged from Crenna and the castle destroyed. After having put together the Compagnia di San Giorgio, a company of mercenaries, in 1339 he was finally defeated in Parabiago by an army led by Azzone, grandson of Matteo. Lodrisio later reconciled with their cousins and the castle was subsequently restored.
The family branch originated by Lodrisio assumed the surname of Visconti di Crenna. Along generations, divisions among brothers lead to the fragmentation of the area surrounding the castle. In the 16th and 17th centuries the building underwent changes and adaptations after further family divisions.
Heavily transformed during the late 19th and the first decades of the 20th century, the area of the ancient castle is today partly surrounded by recent buildings. A tower and other constructions in the form of revival caste are visible from the center of Crenna. The castle can be seen from the distance at the top of the Crenna hill.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.