Belvedere Castle stands on a hill at the south of Weimar and is surrounded by 43 hectares of parkland. Duke Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach had a Baroque summer residence including an orangery, pleasure garden and labyrinth built here between 1724 and 1748. Since 1923, Belvedere Castle has been used as a museum of 18th century crafts.
The castle, which originally served as a hunting lodge, is surrounded by stables with the knights' quarters at the side, giving it the typical atmosphere of an absolutist estate of the time. After the death of Ernst August in 1748, the parks began to run wild. They were restored to their former glory only when Duchess Anna Amalia took up the residence every summer. Duke Carl August, who came to power in 1775, pursued botanical studies at Belvedere together with Goethe. By 1820, a botanical garden had been created to keep approximately 7900 plant species from Germany and abroad. In 1811, Carl August left Belvedere Castle and Park to his son Carl Friedrich and the latter’s wife, the Russian Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. The later duke had a so-called Russian garden laid for his wife at the west of the castle. The park had by now gone to rack and ruin, and between 1815 and 1830 it was transformed into a country park in post-classical, romantic style with meandering paths and numerous ornamental park constructions. Grand Duke Carl Alexander, whose reign commenced in 1853, had the castle, park and orangery carefully preserved and maintained. The park was reconstructed between 1974 and 1978 and the Russian Garden between 1978 and 1982. Reconstruction and restoration work on the orangery complex began in 1998 and will be completed step by step over the next few years.
The exhibits on display in the crafts museum in Belvedere Castle harmonize with the castle’s interior. The museum focuses on porcelain and glass from the ducal household. The collection includes court accessories along with French and German furniture dated back to the 18th century. The tour begins on the ground floor with Oriental porcelain, Thuringian earthenware and portraits of the owner and his family. Early Meissen porcelain and Thuringian dishes and figures are on display on the upper floor. The museum collection also focuses on products from the royal porcelain factory in Berlin, the Fürstenberg factory in the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and the imperial factory in St. Petersburg. Most of these items arrived in Weimar because of the ducal family’s dynastic connections. An exhibition on the ground floor of the West Pavilion sheds light on architecture and garden culture in Duke Ernst August’s day. In the East Pavilion, 18th century weapons which belonged to the ducal family bring the history of court hunting to life.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.