St. John's Fortress is an early modern fortress in Šibenik, situated atop a hill north of the city's historical center. Named after a medieval church dedicated to St. John the Baptist that had stood there from at least 1444, the fortress, together with the adjacent Barone Fortress, was built during the Cretan War and successfully repelled consecutive Ottoman attacks in 1646 and 1647. A local name for the fortress, Tanaja, comes from one of its structures, a plier-shaped outwork, or tenaille (Italian tanaglia).
At the beginning of the Cretan War, the city of Šibenik was in dire need of additional fortifications. The citizens had been dreading the possibility of enemy attack from the hills above the city and pleading with the Venetian senate for their fortification since the 1520s. In the spring of 1646, a Genoese engineer in the Venetian service, Father Antonio Leni, designed a simple symmetric fort with its front hornwork elongated towards the enemy and two flanking demi-bastions on the side towards the city. Although the Venetian war council did not allocate funds for the construction, they also did not forbid the citizens to build the fortress themselves. And so, according to Leni's plan, the development began. The groundwork was done on 1 August 1646, and the whole fortress was completed in just 58 days. Although built in haste and lacking certain elements, St. John's Fortress played a key role in city's defense against the Ottomans in October 1646 and especially during the month-long siege in August and September of 1647, when around 7,000 defenders managed to repel 25,000 Ottoman soldiers who had already conquered parts of the fortress.
As the most modern, strongest and highest fortification, St. John’s Fortress assumed the central role of Šibenik defence. The basic form and structures of the fortress have remained intact until today, as is witnessed by numerous graphic depictions throughout the last three centuries. Venetian, Austrian and Yugoslav military forces have occupied the fortress and left their mark in small-scale interventions on various facilities, depending on their needs. As the fortress was losing its primary function, parts of the defensive structures were more and more neglected, becoming obsolete and devastated. During the last few decades, the citizens of Šibenik have used this area, already completely covered with Aleppo pine forest, as a pathway and viewpoint.
The first construction phase, in 1646, consisted of a dry-stone star-shaped fort, built around the foundations of St. John's chapel. Many adaptations between 1646 and the mid-1660s resulted in a shape similar to today's. It is worth noting that the Fortress of St. John, at the time not even fully completed, in 1647 repulsed what was almost certainly the largest invading army in Dalmatia since Roman times.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.