Varakļāni palace was designed by the Italian architect Vincenzo Macotti at the request of the estate's owner, Count Michael Johann von der Borch. Construction was begun in 1783 and completed in 1789. The palace was one of the first buildings in the classicism style in Latvia. It is an architectural monument of national importance consisting of 3 parts, which are connected by galleries. In the central part of it, there is a tower with a gallery, which burned down at the beginning of the 20th century. The palace has two storeys in the middle part of it and in the wings of it.
The building housed the Varakļāni secondary school from 1921 to 1960. The palace and grounds are currently administered by the town of Varakļāni.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.