The Munttoren ('Coin Tower') was originally part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam's medieval city wall. The gate, built in the years 1480, consisted of two towers and a guard house. The name of the tower refers to the fact that it was used to mint coins in the 17th century.
After the gate went up in flames in a 1618 fire, only the guard house and part of the western tower remained standing. The tower was then rebuilt in Amsterdam Renaissance style in 1620, with an eight-sided top half and elegant open spire designed by Hendrick de Keyser, featuring a clockwork with four clockfaces and a carillon of bells.
The carillon was made in 1668 by Pieter Hemony, who added new bells to the instrument that he and his brother François had made earlier for the tower of the Amsterdam stock exchange in 1651. In 1873, the original baton keyboard was removed from the carillon, in favor of changes to the clockwork mechanism. In 1960 a manual playing system and a manual baton keyboard was re-installed. The current carillon consists of 38 bells. A mechanism causes the bells to chime every quarter of an hour.
The guard house is not the original medieval structure but a 19th century replica. The original guard house, which had survived the fire of 1618 relatively unscathed, was replaced with a new building during 1885-1887 in Neo-Renaissance style. An underpass was added to the building during a 1938-1939 renovation.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.