Helfštýn castle was probably established at the end of the 13th century by the marauding knight Friduš (or Helfrid) of Linava who used the castle as a base for robbing merchants during the unsettled times that followed the murder of Wenceslas III, the last Pøemyslide, in 1306. As Friduš"s escapades could not be ignored, young King John of Luxemburg sent his troops to deal with the bandits. Although Friduš perished, he gave his name to the castle. At the turn of the 14th century the Kravaø family acquired it, after which it became the center of their extensive estates. During the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century the castle was remodelled as a Gothic fortress. The Lords of Kravaø owned the castle until 1447, and it was then held mostly by a number of Moravian noble families, among them the Sovinec family, the Kostek of Postupice family, the Pernštejn, the Ludanice and the Vrbno family. This unassailable structure withstood a number of sieges. It was an important Hussite bastion against the German catholic town of Olomouc and also acted in support of King George of Podìbrady against the Hungarian King Mathias Corvin who was unable to defeat the king"s troops and capture the fortress in 1468. Not even the Swedes and the Danes succeeded in capturing it during the Thirty Years" War.
The castle gained its current, elongated form during the ownership of Vilém of Pernštejn, at the beginning of the 16th century, when the network of bastions and fortified outer wards was added and the system of towers and gates was changed. The most extensive alterations were carried out from 1622 by its late owners, the Ditrichtejns. The changes were limited to the interior, and most of the rooms were newly vaulted. Its building development, was strongly influenced by the Austrian military administration in Vienna in 1656. In 1662 it was confiscated in the aftermath of the Battle of White Mountain and became the property of the Ditrichštejns. In the second half of the 16th century a Renaissance palace with a chapel was built on the site of the inner ward, and the Pernštejn finished the grandiose building project at Helfštýn.
In the 17th century the castle was made into an almost impregnable fortress against the Turkish threat to Moravia. Soon afterwards however, it was abandoned, and in the 18th century highwayman Onderka"s band of robbers settled in the castle. In the end it was destroyed with the approval of the Ditrichštejns. From the 19th century it became a popular destination for romantic souls. Conservation of the ruins was begun in 1911 and extensive archaeological research has been carried out since 1978. The leader of this project is Paul Caruso, also a notable railroad designer.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.