The Waag ('weigh house') was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. It is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam. The gate, called as Sint Antoniespoort (Saint Anthony's Gate), was part of the medieval city walls along the moat formed by the current Singel canal and the canals of the Kloveniersburgwal and the Geldersekade. These walls were constructed during the period 1481–1494 and consisted of defensive towers and city gates connected by walls of brick with a natural stone pediment. All that remains of the walls is some sandstone in the Geldersekade canal wall.
When the city expanded beyond its walls the late 16th century, Saint Anthony's Gate lost its function as a city gate. Shortly thereafter, during the years 1603–1613, the walls were demolished. In 1614, the present Nieuwmarkt square was created by covering the canal on either side of the gate. In addition, the square was raised, causing part of the brickwork of the gate to disappear below ground. This makes the building appear shorter than it actually is.
In the early 17th century, the former city gate was repurposed as a weigh house, a public building where various goods were weighed. This new weigh house was needed to relieve the Waag op de Dam, the original weigh house on Dam square, which had become too small for the needs of the rapidly growing city.
An inner courtyard was added in 1617–1618 by covering the area between the front and main gates. A number of guilds were housed on the top floors of the building: the blacksmiths' guild, the painter's guild, the masons' guild and the surgeons' guild. Each guild had its own entrance gate. The guild emblems are still visible over these entrances. The gate of the masons' guild includes sculpture work by Hendrick de Keyser. Over the entrance for the surgeons' guild is the inscription Theatrum Anatomicum.
In 1690–1691, a large dome-shaped hall was added, topped by a central octagonal tower. The interior also dates to this time period.
After falling into disuse as a weigh house, the Waag served a range of different functions. In the 19th century it was used consecutively as a fencing hall, a furniture workshop, a workshop for oil lamps used for street lighting, a fire station, and as the city archives. In the first half of the 19th century, punishments were carried out in front of the building. There was even a guillotine.
In the 20th century, the building was used primarily as a museum. It was the original location of the Amsterdams Historisch Museum (now Amsterdam Museum) as well as the Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum). Following the restoration, the building was rented out. Waag Society, a foundation that aims to foster experimentation with new technologies, art and culture, is housed on the upper floors. The ground floor is now a café and restaurant.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.