Villa Cornaro was designed by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in 1552 and is illustrated and described by him in Book Two of his 1570 masterwork, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura.
Villa Cornaro was mainly constructed in 1553-1554, with additional work into the 1590s, after Palladio had died, for Giorgio Cornaro, younger son of a wealthy family. It represents one of the most exemplary examples of a Renaissance villa during this time frame. The north façade has an innovative projecting central portico-loggia that is a flexible living space out of the sun and open to cooling breezes.
The interior space is a harmonious arrangement of the strictly symmetrical floor plans on which Palladio insisted without exception. Rooms of inter-related proportions composed of squares and rectangles flank a central axial vista which extends through the house. As Rudolph Wittkower noted, by moving subsidiary staircases into the projecting wings and filling matching corner spaces with paired oval principal stairs, space was left for a central salone which is fully as wide as the porticos. The central core of the villa forms a rectangle in which there are six repetitions of an elegant standard module. The interior has 18th-century frescos by Mattia Bortoloni and stuccos by Camillo Mariani.
Through its illustration in Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura, in the 18th century Villa Cornaro became a model for villas all over the world.
The villa is owned by Carl and Sally Gable, of Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1996 the villa has been conserved as part of a World Heritage Site, 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'.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.