The earth and timber stronghold Gerdauen was constructed by the Teutonic Knights in 1270. After a subsequent Prussian uprising, the Knights were too weak to keep hold of all their fortresses. Gerdauen was burnt down, but once the Prussian uprising was put down, the Teutonic Knights returned here and began to raise new fortifications. By 1310, a new stronghold had been completed. At that time it was guarded by embankments, moats and shelters. Inside the ring of fortifications, stone and brick buildings for a convent of Teutonic brothers were constructed.
Initially the Knights planned that Gerdauen would become a seat of a commander, known as komtur. But this idea was soon relinquished because of the proximity to the Lithuanian lands and frequent attacks staged by Lithuanian troops. Gerdauen for example was attacked in 1336, 1337 and in 1366.
Although in 1406 Gerdauen Castle was surrounded by a ring of fortified walls less than half a century later, in 1455, which was during the Thirteen Years' War, the fortress was severely damaged. In 1670 it stood empty. Soon afterwards it was sold to a private owner. All that had remained of the original buildings were the cellars.
In 1872 a new beautiful palace was raised on this location. Gerdauen flourished until 1814, that is until the outbreak of World War One. In that year, the town was a witness and a victim of a bloody fight with the Russian army. Gerdauen was not rebuilt until 1921.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.