Castle ruins are one of the main lures for tourists in Slovakia. They attract visitors with their picturesqueness and monumental size, like the one at Beckov. Its attractiveness can be ascribed among other things also to its location – sitting upon a 30-metre tall, limestone outcrop.
Its fame came mainly from Ctibor, the owner of the castle at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. Polish by origin, he was a loyal servant of kings of Hungary. It was his loyalty and especially good relations with King Sigismund that made him an unusually influential man, who controlled a considerable part of present-day Slovakia.
His influence was reflected in the imposing title which this nobleman started using in 1400 – “The Lord of the Váh”. However, Ctibor was not just powerful, but also an enlightened feudal lord. He invited builders, painters, and sculptors from Venice and the Veneto region of Italy to work on his grand reconstruction of the castle. Near to the Váh River, it was one of the first Renaissance buildings in Greater Hungary which also preserved older, Gothic elements. Beckov Castle was also unique from a defensive point of view. From around the middle of the 17th century, as the Ottomans plundered western Slovakia, the castle became a haven for Hungarian aristocrats in the vicinity.
Raiders failed to conquer it in spite of the fact that the flat terrain made it possible to reach the very foot of the castle rock. It was struck a fatal blow in 1709 when sparks from a fire in the nearby town set alight the wooden beams and rafters of the fortress and it burned to the ground. The ruins of Beckov are depicted in this postcard from 1939.
11. Jan 2010 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan