The Barone Fortress in Šibenik is an early modern fortress constructed in 1646 on Vidakuša hill above the city. Together with the remaining three city fortresses, it is a part of the Šibenik fortification system. It played a significant role in city's defense from the Ottomans during the Cretan War.
Since at least the mid-16th century, the city rectors and envoys had been stressing the need for the construction of fortification objects on the hills north of the city, because the city walls and St. Michael's Fortress had not been built to endure any prolonged artillery attack. The pleas were constantly rejected by the Venetian senate due to lack of funds. In the spring of 1646, one year after the Cretan War broke out between the Venetians and the Ottomans, the Bosnian pasha began to amass a large army for the attack on Dalmatia. At the same time, a German nobleman in Venetian service, Baron Christoph Martin von Degenfeld, took over the defense of the city, and a Genoese military engineer, Father Antonio Leni, arrived in Šibenik and made sketches for the necessary improvement of the city's defense. When the people of Šibenik renewed their request for protection, the Venetians denied them the funds once again, but the citizens were not explicitly forbidden from building the fortification by themselves. Upon hearing that, they took the matter into their own hands – the construction of both Barone Fortress and the adjacent St. John's Fortress began on 1 August 1646, and both fortresses were successfully built in only 58 days.
The first Ottoman siege in October 1646 was fended off after just seven days. The fortresses were strengthened over the following winter and prepared for the next attack. On 17 August 1647, the Ottoman commander, Techieli-pasha, arrived in Šibenik with the largest invading army in Dalmatia since the Roman era – 25,000 soldiers and heavy artillery. After a ferocious one-month siege, the enemy withdrew with great losses in both manpower and equipment. Turkish invaders were forced to retreat to the interior, towards Drniš, and never managed to conquer Šibenik.
Originally, Barone Fortress looked somewhat different from what does today, as it was probably hurriedly built in the dry-stone technique. Thirteen years later, in 1659, the Venetian provveditore Antonio Bernardo initialized the construction work that transformed the fortress into an object measuring up to the standards of contemporary military architecture. Shaped as an irregular star, the fortress resisted enemy cannons thanks to the bastions reinforced with mounds. The northern part of the fortress (hornwork) has two demi-bastions connected by a curtain wall. That was the position of the defense artillery. The southern part was used for barracks and magazines. After the Ottoman threat had passed, the fortress was maintained poorly, and the original objects have decayed or been torn down with time. In the early 20th century, the City of Šibenik purchased and then renamed the fortress and its surrounding area.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.