The Château de Saint-Just is a Renaissance castle with a one of the most the remarkable gardens of France. The first chateau was built in the 13th century, but only a few foundations remain. Near the end of the 16th century, Jacques de Croixmare built a new residence on the site. A record of the property in the fief of Saint-Just, written in 1608, mentions a manor, common buildings, an orangerie, a garden and a kitchen garden. It also included a chapel, two mills, vineyards, and an avenue planted with elm trees.
In 1654 the last descendants of the Croixmare family sold the house to Jean de Savary, the Secretary to the King of France and the Master of the Waters and Forests of Normandy. Jean de Savary and his descendants transformed the park into a French formal garden, adding water features and a kitchen garden. A plan from 1744 shows the chateau and park as they looked in the 18th century.
In 1775 the chateau was sold to the Duke de Penthièvre, who also owned the nearby château de Bizy. The Duke turned the old lodging into a rest home for his elderly servants. In the park he constructed a dairy and an icehouse, as well as a clinic. The rest home was occupied until the death of the Duke in 1793. The house was nationalized during the French Revolution, and then sold to Sébastien-Gilles Huet de Guerville. He built a tomb for his wife in the park, using architectural elements of the mausoleum of Lancelot de la Garenne (1595), coming from the church of the village of Mercey, Eure.
In 1798, the chateau was purchased by Victor Claude Alexandre Fanneau de Lahorie, one of Napoleon's generals, who later was implicated in a plot against Napoleon and shot in 1812. During the time he owned the house his mistress was Sophie Trébuchet, the mother of Victor Hugo, and according to some accounts Victor Hugo may have been conceived at the chateau.
In 1805 de Lahorie sold the chateau to Chevalier Suchet, who sold it to his brother, the Marshal and Duke d'Albufera. Louis Gabriel Suchet, who was one of Napoleon Bonaparte's most famous marshals, celebrated for his victories in Spain. In 1810 Suchet replaced the elm trees of the avenue from the 17th century with poplar trees. Beginning in 1816, he made major transformations on the house, done by the architect Lacornée. He redecorated and refurnished the house in the French Empire style, and had the park redesigned by the landscape architect Belguise. In 1825, part of the park was transformed into an English garden.
After the death of the Marshal in 1826, his widow divided the property and sold a part, including to the chapel, the Osmont paviilion, the clinic and part of the English garden to the owner of the neighboring chateau du Rocher.The chateau has belonged to the same family since 1885. In 1893, the avenue was replanted with plantane trees. In 1905, the pond was restored, and the water garden features repaired in 1935. The left wing of the house was torn down in 1904. A large section of the original park now belongs to an adjoining property.
The park is connected to the Seine River by an avenue more than a kilometer long lined by two rows of platane trees. The most striking feature of the park is the water garden, created in the 17th century. Three channels of water flow from springs downhill into a large pond, which reflects the facade of the chateau. The terraces of the park overlook the kitchen garden, also irritated by the spring water, and over the Seine. The 19th century section of the park has a remarkable assortment of old oak and bald cypress trees.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.