Hopperstad Stave Church is assumed to have been built around 1130 and still stands at its original location. The church is owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.
In 1997, a series of samples from the logs were collected for dendrochronological dating of the church. A total of seven samples produced an estimate for the construction ranging from 1034 to 1116 and resulted in no definite conclusion. The only possible conclusion is that this is one of the oldest stave churches still standing.
About 700 years after its construction the church was abandoned and its exterior stripped. The church was in very poor condition for many years until the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments purchased the building in 1880. Using the Borgund Stave Church as a model, architect Peter Andreas Blix reconstructed the church between 1884 and 1891. During the reconstruction carved sections were found beneath the floor which indicates that the new church replaced an older church, which was probably built in the latter half of the 11th century.
The church had not undergone any major changes until the 17th century. At that time the nave was lengthened to the west, and a bell-tower was added above the new extension. To the east a log section was added, and a new vestibule to the south with its own entrance.
The largest addition came to the north with a log construction, named the new church (nykirken). The constructions were finalized in the 18th century, but then removed in around 1875. The font is placed under the medieval baldaquin. The walls are painted by numerous quotes from the Holy Scripture in vivid colours.
The church is a triple-nave stave church of what is known as the Borgund-type. It has three portals, and the western portal is an excellent example of Middle Age wood carving. The motifs are of a romance character, often associated with European influence. The nave is a raised central room with an aisle around it, and the choir is apsidal and narrower than the nave.
The church contains an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and 14th-century ciborium with a baldachin on the north side. The ciborium has four sculptured heads, that of Christ with a halo, a queen, a king, and a monk. The roof of the baldachin bears a painting of the birth of Christ.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.