Castelvecchio ('Old Castle') is the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the city in the Middle Ages. The castle stands on the probable location of a Roman fortress outside the Roman city. Lord Cangrande II della Scala had it built along with its bridge across the Adige River as a deterrent to his powerful neighbors such as Venice, the Gonzaga and the Sforza families. Construction was carried out between 1354 and 1376 (Cangrande died in 1359). The fortified bridge was intended to allow the seigniors to escape safely northwards to the Tyrol in the event of a rebellion or a coup d'état (the Scaligeri were allies of the Holy Roman Empire) and when they eventually lost their hold on Verona, its surviving members left Italy to found a German branch of the family.
Later, during the Venetian domination, slits were added to defend it with cannons. The castle was damaged by French troops during the Napoleonic Wars (1796-7), in retaliation to the Pasque Veronesi, when the local population staged a violent anti-French revolt. Napoleon had chosen to stay in Castelvecchio on his trips to Verona, but his widespread and arbitrary requisitions of citizens' and churches' property, the massive draft of male workers into the French army prompted the resistance that eventually drove out the invaders.
Under the Austrians, Castelvecchio was turned into barracks. In 1923 the castle was restored, as well as in 1963-1965.
The castle is powerful and compact in its size with very little decoration - one square compound built in red bricks, one of the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture of the age, with imposing M-shaped merlons running along the castle and bridge walls. It has seven towers, a superelevated keep with four main buildings inside. The castle is surrounded by a ditch, now dry, which was once filled with waters from the nearby Adige.
Castelvecchio is now home to the Castelvecchio Museum and the local officer's club.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.