Považský is a ruin of medieval castle on the right side of the river Váh, built on a cliff 497 meters above sea level. It was one of the most important castles guarding the valley of the river Váh. The first settlement of the castle cliff is dated to Púchov culture, also a Celtic coin was found on the hill. The exact year of establishment of the Bistrizza castle is not known, but it is assumed that it might have been around 1128 AD. There are doubts that the castle in those times might have been made of wood because of the presence of two other wooden castles in present day Slovakia. For the shift from wooden castle is probably responsible Béla IV, after the invasions of Batu Khan. However, the first written reference is from 1316, closely connected to Matthew III Csák. The next holder of the castle was county judge Alexander Héderváry. Together with his son Mikulas, they ruled from 1325 to 1354. From 1354 the castle belonged to Pavol Ugali, chancellor of ex-county judge. During last few years of the 14th century, King Sigismund gave the fortress to palatine Sudivoj, but the owner was quickly changed, and from 1400 to 1425 it belonged to Ctibor of Beckov. Then it became the possession of a king.
In 1458 Matthias Corvinus of Hungary donated the castle, the town and 16 surrounding villages to Ladislav Podmanitzky for his devotion to him, preceded by violent death of his father Anton Podmanitzky in the service of the king. His diligent work for the ruler prepared a good position for his sons and great upsurge of his possession.
His sons had important roles in the future of middle Europe. Jan Podmaniczky became the Archbishop of Zagreb and personal mentor of Vladislas II. His brother Stefan Podmanitzky became Archbishop of Nitra, he coronated both János Szapolyai and Ferdinand I as the kings of the country, but later he took the Habsburgs' side due to their stretching influence around Nitra. He was one of the leaders of the Counter-Reformation in the times when Martin Luther's influence just started to reach the country. His third son Michal Podmanitzky became chamberlain of King Louis II. He with his brother Stefan participated in the Battle of Mohács, from which he never returned. He left three daughters and sons Jan and Rafael.
After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the country was divided between two kings, János Szapolyai and Ferdinand I.
This dispute used Jan Podmanitzky and his brother Rafael Podmanitzky to gain power in the region; Považský hrad was the centre of their influence. They took the side of János Szapolyai although most of the region was under control of the Habsburgs. Possession of Podmanitzky, with a hard centre Považský hrad withstood attacks of king's army led by Katzainer, to whom Trencin gave up in the summer of 1528, but they even gained new possessions around Lednica. They were famous for their successful raids all around the region. In those times they were limitless rulers of the region; the whole northern part of the county, under their reign, was independent from the rest of the county controlled by Ferdinand I . In the 1530s they became involved in the fight against Protestant family Kostka. For their involvement they were given the manor of Vesprim. They split up in 1537 to create their own manors, leaving Rafael in the region and Jan creating Vesprim manor, but they both still continued with their raids. In 1542 their raids were issued on the king's court. After settling down the possession matters with Kostka, they accepted the results.
A great fire started in 1543 devastated the castle but the owner invested great effort to rebuild it. In 1560 the castle was donated to Gašpar Serédi. After his death his wife married Ondrej Balassa. The castle was shelter for the Balassa family during an uprising of Francis II Rákóczi against the Habsburgs. The castle, due to its well-built fort, resisted. Because of a lack of luxury, the Balassa family moved from the castle to the mansion below the castle cliff. The place was then used during the rebellion against Leopold I, so to prevent more rebellion the emperor ordered the castle to be destroyed. It was burned by his troops in 1698. The ruins were again damaged by earthquake in 1858.
The castle with shingle roof belonged in times of his fame to one of biggest well-fortified buildings of that kind. The ground plan of the building has a fid shape. The entrance to the castle was protected by an entrance tower, a barbican and two bastions, parts of a strong wall through which the castle crew protected themselves in case of danger. The ground floor of the tower was used as a storage place for munitions. Here was probably also a secret gate through which people from the castle were supplied in cases of attack, when the main entrance was built-in. On the northern side there was a cuboid tower, used as a prison. On the east of the tower there was a main gate for carriages. A few metres ahead was a warehouse of cannons, next to them houses of nobles and a chapel. These parts are nowadays most devastated. On the southwest there were flats, and under them other warehouses, granary, kitchens and pantries. The castle had three floors. The water supply was ensured by underground wooden pipes from the well Sklepita. The remains of these pipes were found in the early 20th century. In front of the castle was a moat. Sandstone and limestone were used as building materials.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.