Originally devoted to Saint-Sernin, first bishop of Toulouse, the Saint-Hilaire abbey later took the name of Saint-Hilaire who was Bishop of Carcassonne during the 6th century, because relics of his mortal remains were apparently sheltered there.
It was during the medieval period that this locality grew in importance, the village spread around the abbey whose abbots were also the feudal lords.
Until the beginning of the 13th century, the abbey benefited from the protection of the Counts of Carcassonne. During the Crusade against the Cathars, however, the monks were accused of heresy and lost their autonomy and most of their property. The monastery itself was devastated by the Catholic Crusaders. In 1246, Saint-Louis, the French King, ordered the Seneschal of Carcassone to give back to the Abbot of Saint-Hilaire the lands which had been confiscated from Cathars.
By the 14th century, the abbey was in financial difficulty. Insecurity caused by the Hundred Years War meant the abbots had to finance the maintenance of the village fortifications, and the abbey started to decline.
According to tradition the abbey was the birthplace of the Blanquette de Limoux. During the 16th century, the monks elaborated a semisparkling wine which has become famous around the world.
During the 18th century, the French Revolution caused further financial problems for the Abbey and it was obliged to sell its land and possessions.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.