Bytča Castle was originally built as a water castle by Pongrác Szentmiklósi in the 13th century and rebuilt between 1571 and 1574 in Renaissance style by Ferenc Thurzó. The Italian architect Ján Kilian of Milan was invited to oversee the construction. George Thurzo continued his father’s activities and due to him the Wedding Palace was built in 1601, which was meant to serve for the weddings of his six daughters. From more decorative details it can be concluded that the palace is the work of Italian masters who lived in Bytča. The building is embellished by rich sgraffito figural and floral ornaments around the stone windows and portal. Inside the one-story, rectangular building is a particularly interesting foyer on the ground floor and a large Wedding hall on the first floor, which was for a longtime the largest of its kind in Slovakia.
There were two pharmacies, a school, a typing office, a library and an assembly room in the castle. In the eastern part of the castle there was the so-called big hall, intended for assemblies during the reign of George Thurzo. In the northern part there was a castle treasury, which was later turned into a chapel by the Esterházy family. After the Thurzo family had died out at the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was acquired by the Esterházy family, who converted it into a farm building. In 1862, the property was bought by the Popper family of merchants, who transformed the castle into flats and the Wedding Palace into a district court. Ján Ujváry, also called Ficko, Elizabeth Báthory’s helper was also imprisoned in Bytča castle. At the beginning of the 18th century, the legendary Slovak outlaw Juraj Jánošík served as a prison officer in the castle. He helped the imprisoned Tomáš Uhorčík escape and they created a forest robber group. This is why this national heroes’s legend might have started in Bytča. Today the castle houses the State District Archive, the Wedding Palace belongs to Považské Museum in Žilina. Today the Wedding Palace is after the reconstruction and is open.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.