The earliest official mention of building a fortress in Waldau comes from a chronicle dating to 1258. The name of the castle derives from the Baltic Prussian language, where it meant 'to own'. And in fact, the surrounding lands belonged to two Prussian landowners: Brulant and Diabel, who were called 'tenants' or 'dukes'. In 1264, the dukes were obliged by the Teutonic Knights to set up an inn, in which Teutonic knights, clergymen and soldiers would stay. There, travelling merchants would spend time discussing the ups and downs of commerce over a pint of barley beer or a bottle of cider.
When the lands of Nadrovia and Sudovia had been occupied by the tribe of Yotvingians, the border between the Monastic State of the Teutonic Order and Lithuania moved eastwards. As a result, the fortress of Waldau ceased to serve a defensive role. In 1457 the old building was converted into a residential castle, which from then on served as a summer residence of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. When the Order was secularized in 1525, the castle turned into a seat for the administrative authorities in the district of Waldau. In 1858 an agricultural school was established in the castle. Afterwards the castle was completely redesigned and changed into a popular school for teachers.
The history of Waldau Castle contains one event which, on the initiative of local people, was commemorated in 1997 by placing a plaque on the walls of the castle. On 17th (27th) May 1697, the castle hosted Russian emissaries, headed by Admiral Franc Jakovlewitz Lefort (1656 - 1699). The Tsar's chronicler wrote on that day: 'Tsar Peter I arrived on this day to enquire about the well being of the emissaries and to finally confirm the meeting ceremony with Kurfürst (The Prince Elector of the German Reich). In the evening, Tsar Peter I left for Königsburg and the Russian emissaries set off from Waldau early morning the next day.'
Today the castle in Nizovye, despite its old age, makes a great impression on the visitors. Parts of the former castle outbuildings have remained until today and the castle itself still houses an agricultural school.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.