The largest fortified Stauffer palace north of the Alps was built at the end of the 12th century by the Staufer emperors, which included Frederick I (Barbarossa) in Bad Wimpfen. Even from a far one is impressed by the striking silhouette with the two keeps, named the Red and the Blue Tower, the palace chapel, the arcades of the Stauffer palace and the stone house. Stauffer ladies in historical costumes give guided tours of the imperial palace every Sunday at 2 pm.
The Blue Tower was built about 1200 and served as the high watch tower well into the 19th century. The tower watchmen were hired particularly to look out for fire. The tower watchman tradition – probably the oldest in Germany - has continued for centuries up until today. From 32 meters above one can enjoy a splendid view of the Neckar River valley and the Old Town, which is a listed site, or listen to the tower trumpets on Sundays at 12 am during the season.
The Red tower was also built around 1200. This would have been the last refuge of the lord of the castle it was elaborately equipped (Romanesque fireplace, sanitary fittings). Nearby is the Nürnberger Türmchen, a small tower serving as a reminder of the help renderd by the Free Imperial City of Nürnberg after the Thirty Years` War.
The Steinhaus was the largest residential building in the palace, built after 1217. Probably originally the women´s apartments in the Staufen palace, it is the largest Romanesque dwelling in Germany. Late Gothic stepped gable and seven-sectional window. On the first floor there are valuable medieval and Late Gothic mural paintings. The building now houses the Bad Wimpfen Municipal Museum of History (devoted mainly to prehistory, early history, the Staufen medieval period and the art of stonemasonry).
The Staufen Imperial Palace Chapel (ca. 1160) was dedicated to St. Nicholas with imperial gallery at the entrance from the palace hall. Converted in 1837 into a farmhouse with a barn and stables, the building was restored to its original state after 1908. Today it houses the Bad Wimpfen Municipal Museum of Ecclesiastical History with exhibits from the treasure vaults of the town`s monasteries and churches.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.