The castle was built by king Casimir the Great in 1356-1366. Its function was to protect the customs chamber located on the Pilica ford, lying on the trade route running from Lwów, through Sandomierz to Toruń. Inowłódz and his ford were of strategic importance, cutting in between Mazovia and Lesser Poland.
The first recorded castle castellan was Piotr Tłuk from Strykowie family. At the end of the fourteenth century, the castle belonged to the Niemirowie family, however, Władysław Jagiełło bought it and due to its important location, restored to royal property. In connection with the deterioration of relations with prince Siemowit IV, the king predicted a threat from Mazovia and wanted to have an important, border stronghold. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, he visited Inowłódz many times, presumably controlling the castle’s repairs and its reconstruction. The interior development was considerably expanded, perhaps to increase the larger crew.
In 1515, the castle was bought by Adam Drzewicki, a representative of a wealthy Polish noble family, and in the mid-seventeenth century, the Lipski family became its owner. In times of Drzewickis, after 1563, the second significant reconstruction of the castle was carried out, caused by the fire that destroyed the building. As a result of the Polish-Swedish war in 1655-1657, the castle was destroyed and gradually fell into ruin.
The castle was erected in the Pilica valley in a place with natural defensive advantages. From the north, north-west and east, it was protected by river, whereas from the south and west it were marshy meadows. The most convenient road led to castle from the east, where the town was located. The hill on which the castle was built was about 60×80 meters and only one meter above the surrounding meadows, but was raised by the earth dug from the moat. It surrounded the whole castle, was 22 meters wide and 1 meter deep. Inside and outside, it was reinforced with wooden logs arranged along the banks. From the south, the moat was connected to the riverbed by a dug channel, which ensured a constant flow of water, and at the same time provided an additional defense line to the town.
The original castle consisted of perimeter walls, a gate in the eastern curtain, a four-sided tower in the south wall and an octagonal tower in the north-east corner. It was erected from yellow-brown sandstone mined in a nearby quarry, connected with lime mortar. The perimeter of the walls had a plan similar to a rectangle with side lengths of 49x32x47x31 meters. Its thickness was 2.4 meters, and the height was probably 7-8 meters. It was crowned with a crenelage and a porch for the defenders from the side of the courtyard.
The main corner tower with a diameter of about 10 meters, protruded by 4 meters outside the defensive circuit. It had thick walls 3.4 – 3.7 meters wide, which gave the internal space only 3.3 meters in diameter. The entrance to the tower led only from the level of the eastern curtain wall. Perhaps from the side of the courtyard a wooden porch connecting the north and east sections of the walls was provided to the tower, ensuring communication between these fragments of fortifications. The interior of the tower probably had four floors, lit by small rectangular windows. The basement was a prison cell to which a rope or ladder was lowered, and the upper part probably had a hip roof (at a height of about 25-30 meters). The tower flanked the entrance gate to the castle on the eastern side and ensured observation of a nearby ford on the river and the town. At first, the gate was an ordinary opening in the wall with a width of 2.6 meters and a height of 2 meters. A wooden bridge over the moat was leading to it.
In the southern curtain, 7 meters from the south-east corner, a four-sided tower measuring 8.7×10 meters, a wall thickness of 2.4 meters and an estimated height of 10-15 meters was located. Its interior was accessible from the courtyard level to the ground floor. Only the entrances from the crown of the defensive wall, from the west and east, led to the upper storey. The function of the tower is not entirely sure, it certainly secured the moat on the south side, perhaps it was also a link with the nearby defensive walls of the town. This would explain the function of a stone pillar on the south-eastern side, which could have been the basis for the porch connecting the castle wall with the town wall.
Inside the castle there was a L-shaped house. It consisted of two wings, each of which had three rooms in the ground floor. To the west wing led the entrance in the middle of the middle room, from which the door led to the other two rooms. Their height was about 2.3 meters. In the southern chamber there was a castle kitchen with a floor made of flat bricks. All three rooms were lit by small windows with an internal, sloping window sill, all of them probably had economic functions. The communication with the floor was provided by external timber porches and stairs. There were living quarters (including the so-called great hall), illuminated with larger windows, covered with a profiled stonework. In the northern wing, only the eastern room had a entrance from the courtyard. It was a stable, probably housing about 8 horses. Narrow room located on the left side could act as a small storage for riding gear. The north wing first floor, like the west one, was accessible through an external timber staircase and porch.
The expansion of king Władysław Jagiełło from the turn of the 14th / 15th centuries led to the erection of two more houses, located on both sides of the four-sided tower. At the same time, a wall was built separating the space between the northern wall of the four-sided tower and the eastern and western buildings. The entrance to the ground floor of the tower was also walled up, which, in the absence of any other entrances at the ground floor level, forced only access from the level of the floor. It is not known whether it was another prison or warehouse. In this way, continuous construction was created along the entire southern section of the wall. In the western part of the castle, a bread oven was built in the courtyard.
The second rebuilding from the first half of the 16th century led to walling up of the old gate. The new entrance was given to the four-sided tower, in which a drawbridge was used, operating on the counterweight base, using the former basement as an internal trapdoor. The northern house was demolished, replaced by a small eastern house, located between the octagonal tower and the eastern section of the southern building. The new building was accessible from the ground floor level, it also had a basement with an entrance next to the main tower.
Since 1563, as a result of another reconstruction, a short foregate of 4.3 meters was added to the four-sided gatehouses, and smaller changes affected the layout of the rooms and the functioning of the cellars. The three corners of the perimeter wall, probably damaged by fire, were also strengthened with buttresses.
Until today, the castle has been preserved in the form of a very poorly preserved ruin. Since 2007 these relics have been covered by plans for permanent protection and partial reconstruction. Today, the Communal Cultural Center, library and tourist information are also available on the castle.
Augustyniak J., Zamek w Inowłodzu na tle dziejów miasta, Łódź – Inowłódz 2013.
Leksykon zamków w Polsce, red. L.Kajzer, Warszawa 2003.
Pietrzak J., Zamki i dwory obronne w dobrach państwowych prowincji wielkopolskiej, Łódź 2003.