The first small Starhemberg castle was built by Ottokar III, Margrave of Styria between 1140 and 1145. At the time, the Piesting river was the border between Styria and the March of Austria. In 1192, Styria—and, thus, the castle—was acquired by the Babenbergs. The last Babenberger duke of Austria, Frederick II the Warlike, expanded and fortified the castle, leaving Starhemberg as one of the most important castles in Lower Austria in the 13th century. In wartime, the archives and the family treasure was hidden here, and were guarded by the Teutonic Knights.
After the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278, the castle was acquired by the Habsburgs. In 1482, the castle was captured by Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. In 1683, the castle offered protection from the Turks to the surrounding population.
To escape a new roof-tax the counts of Heusenstamm around 1800 had the roof covering removed, as well as doors and window frames, beginning the decline of the castle. Around 1870, a large part of the great hall collapsed. Until the mid-20th century, the ruins were used for the extraction of construction materials by the local population.
In the spring of 1945 a unit of the Waffen-SS used the ruined tower above the chapel as an observation post. Russian artillery fire inflicted heavy damage to the walls.
In the second half of the 20th century a local organisation, Friends of the Castle Starhemberg, has sought to restore the ruins. Since 2007, the castle has been closed to visitors, for security.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.