The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. The building was first the city hall of Luxembourg from 1572 to 1795, the seat of the prefecture of the Département des Forêts in 1795, and then the headquarters of the Luxembourg Government in 1817.
From 1817, the palace became the residence of the Governor, the representative of the Dutch Grand Dukes. As such, it was used by Prince Henry, during his time as Lieutenant-Representative of Luxembourg. The building's interior was renovated in 1883, in preparation of a visit by Grand Duke William III and his wife, Grand Duchess Emma.
With the accession of the House of Nassau-Weilburg in 1890, the palace was reserved exclusively for the Grand Duke and his family. Under Grand Duke Adolphe, it was comprehensively renovated and a new wing, containing family rooms and guest accommodation, was built by the Belgian architect Gédéon Bordiau and the Luxembourgian state architect, Charles Arendt.
During the German occupation in the Second World War, the Grand Ducal Palace was used by the Nazis as a concert hall and tavern. Extensive damage was done and much of the palace's furniture and art collections was ruined. With the return of Grand Duchess Charlotte from exile in 1945, the palace once again became the seat of the Grand Ducal Court.
Under the supervision of Charlotte, the palace was redecorated during the 1960s. It was thoroughly restored between 1991 and 1996. The interior of the Palace has been regularly renovated to match modern tastes and standards of comfort.
From 1945 to 1966 the Grand Ducal Guard mounted ceremonial guard duties at the palace. From 1966 to today soldiers of the military of Luxembourg perform guard duties.
As the official residence of the Grand Duke, the palace is used by him in the exercise of his official functions. He and the Grand Duchess, together with their staff, have their offices at the palace, and the state rooms on the first floor are used for a variety of meetings and audiences. On Christmas Eve, the Grand Duke's Christmas message is broadcast from the Yellow Room.
Foreign heads of state are accommodated at the palace, as guests of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, during official visits to Luxembourg, and the Ballroom is the setting for state banquets in their honour. Throughout the year, numerous other receptions take place at the palace, such as the New Year's reception given for members of the Government and the Chamber of Deputies.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.