Zwiefalten Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1089 at the time of the Investiture Controversy by Counts Gero and Kuno of Achalm, advised by Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg and Abbot William of Hirsau. The first monks were also from Hirsau Abbey, home of the Hirsau Reforms (under the influence of the Cluniac reforms), which strongly influenced the new foundation. Noker von Zwiefalten was the first abbot and led from 1065–90.
During the 12th century Saint Ernest (died 1148) was abbot. Between 1145 and 1149 he participated in the Second Crusade to regain the Holy Lands including Jerusalem.
Although Pope Urban VI granted special privileges to it, Zwiefalten Abbey was nevertheless the private monastery of the Counts of Achalm, later succeeded by the Counts of Württemberg. The abbey was plundered in 1525 during the German Peasants' War. Christoph Rassler was abbot from 1658–75 and Augustin Stegmüller was abbot in the 18th century.
In 1750 the abbey was granted the status of Reichsabtei, which meant that it had the status of an independent power subject only to the Imperial Crown and was free of the rule of Württemberg. On 25 November 1802, however, it was secularised and dissolved and became a lunatic asylum and later psychiatric hospital, which it is today, as well as the site of the Württemberg Psychiatry Museum.
The present buildings were constructed in German Baroque style from 1739–47 under the direction of Johann Michael Fischer (1692–1766) of Munich, who began overseeing the work in 1741. The interior, considered a model of Baroque design, is filled with ornate chapels and gilded balustrades, dominated by the high altar, which combines a Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary dating from 1430 with Baroque additions (dating from about 1750) by Johann Joseph Christian (1706–77). The elaborate frescoes are by Franz Joseph Spiegler (1691–1757).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.