The Burcht van Leiden is an old shell keep in Leiden constructed in the 11th century. It is located at the spot where two tributaries of the Rhine come together, the Leidse Rijn, and another river, now a canal. The structure is on top of a motte, and is today a public park.
From humble beginnings, the hill was raised during various periods of history up to 9 meters above the surrounding landscape in the 11th century. Ada van Holland used the keep as a residence until her father died in 1203 and she was captured by her uncle. In the same year the previous stone building was rebuilt after an attack on the castle, with tuff stone, and after Ada's removal, in 1204 it was attacked again and rebuilt with brick.
Later in the 13th century the building was considered antiquated, since more and more townspeople and houses were built around the base of the hill, making defenses impossible without destroying most of the city. The old 'interior keep' that had been built against the interior walls (a similar ronded keep construction can still be seen in Teylingen) was slowly dismantled and reused for city construction.
As the city of Leiden grew around it in the 13th and 14th centuries, the ruined castle lost its military function. The location became a romantic patriotic symbol after the Siege of Leiden in 1574. In 1651 the city bought the premises to make it into a water tower for public use. A system of waterpipes leading to squares in the city is still intact. In this period a new portal on the keep wall was designed in 1662 with heraldric symbols by Rombout Verhulst, denoting the leading families of the city. There are two other gates to the Burcht, one at the base of the hill with wrought iron heraldric weapons, built in 1653, and one on the south side of the complex, which itself forms a gateway to the park.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.