The town of Spišské Podhradie was founded as a settlement, at the base of the castle mound, which was already fortified at that time, but quickly it became independent of the castle. The first church, destroyed in a Tatar raid, was rebuilt in Romanesque style in 1258-73, probably by the same Italian masons who constructed the first castle. It was granted town privileges and became an important textile centre for its large Saxon community during the 15th century, when much of the town was reconstructed and fortified, but it fell into economic decline after the Reformation.
The street pattern was laid out formally in the 14th century and extended in the 15th century. Following a fire, most of the houses were rebuilt in Renaissance style. The central point of the town is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by town houses. A number of stone two-storey houses still survive, embedded in the fabric of later (largely Renaissance) structures. The town square assumed its present form in the 15th century, round the church. A block of Baroque houses, along with the church and monastery of the Order of Brothers of Mercy, has closed the south-east side of the central square
Today Spišské Podhradie is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Levoča, Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments.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.