Beckov – castle

History

   The castle was probably built in the 13th century. It was one of the many strongholds located on Váh and guarding the ford and borders of the Kingdom of Hungary. Its strength is evidenced by the fact that it was not captured by the Mongols in 1241. Initially, castle was in the hands of the Hungarian monarchs, but in 1296 it got into the hands of Matthew Csák, the most powerful of the then Hungarian aristocrats, who rebuilt the castle into his residence. After the death of Csák in 1321, the castle again became a royal estate and was administered by castellans. According to some sources, in 1379, the castle and Beckov received the Bánffy family for they loyal service.
   
From 1388 the best period in the history of the stronghold begins. It was then handed to Stibor of Stiboricz, which rebuilt castle in the gothic style and added new objects, richly decorated with architectural details and paintings. In 1414 the castle was inherited by his son, Stibor of Beckov, followed by his daughter
Catherine. She returned to her home as the wife of Pal Bánffy, whom the king donated the castle in 1437. Beckov remained in their hands until the dying out of the family; the last male representative died in 1594 in one of the battles against the Turks. Earlier, in the 16th century, the castle was additionally fortified and rebuilt in the renaissance style. Thanks to this, the attack of the Ottoman army was repulsed in 1530, and in 1599 castle defended against the Tatars, who managed only to burn the town itself. It was also the last manifestation of the splendor of the castle, which in the seventeenth century was neglected and deserted, and the family property after 1646, when the last descendant of Bánffy was dead, was divided among many heirs.
   
In 1729, a fire broke out in the town, which moved to the castle and destroyed the interiors and roofs. Not rebuilt, from then on, it was devastateing more and more until only ruins were left. It was not until the 1970s that the ruins were visited by specialists and authorities, and extensive archaeological and conservation works were carried out and existing remnants were secured.

Architecture

   The medieval stronghold consisted of the upper and lower castle. The entry led through a barbican and a long foregate on the lower ward, which was in contact with the town walls and a four-sided tower. The gate led to the courtyard of the lower castle, surrounded in the southern part by defensive walls from the 13th century. In the 14th century it was extended north-east, along the base of the castle rock, and in the 16th century its central part was reinforced with a renaissance artillery bastion. In the northern part of the lower castle there was a well from the fourteenth century. Economic buildings were attached to the inner walls of the defensive walls.
    
The upper castle occupied the highest part of the rock spur and was adapted to the terrain conditions. In the southern part of the upper castle there was a square tower of final defense (bergfried) from the 13th century, and  east of it the so-called Tower of Stibor from the 15th century. Bergfried, apart from the fact that it was a place of refuge in the event of castles capture, also towered over entire southern part of the castle and the entry road to the upper castle. In the fifteenth century, in the middle part of the western curtain, another, four-sided, low tower was added.
   
The largest area had two oldest palaces: the western rectangular with dimensions 9 x 21 meters, and the northern one in the shape of a trapezium and dimensions 16-23 x 10 meters. Both were erected in the 13th century. In the upper courtyard, created in the 15th century by the addition of new buildings at the eastern and western curtains and enlargement of the northern palace, there was a water cistern carved into the rock and a chapel with a polygonal presbytery, extended out of the perimeter of the defensive walls.

Current state

   The castle has been preserved in the form of an impressive gothic-renaissance ruin. It have survived all of main elements such as the north and west palaces, the bergfried tower and two towers from the fifteenth century, or the castle’s chapel, but unfortunately each one in various degrees of damages. After the last revitalization works, it is open to visitors from April to November.

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bibliography:
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.