La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle ruins lie on a rocky outcrop dominating the green valley which is nestled in a loop formed by the river Ourthe and the steep sides of the Deistermountain. The ruins, dating back to the 11th century, look gloomy but impressive, emphasized by the roughly piled slate walls.
From the 12th century on the castle took a strategic place in the development and defence of trade and it got to be a halting place in the trading route of English wool to Lombardia in present Italy.
The castle was conquered by the French in 1681 who rebuilt the castle so that it could withstand the new artillery.
La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle was inhabited until 1780 when it was abandoned. It quickly fell to ruin when in the 19th century it was stripped of all useful materials by the villagers of La Roche.
In 1903 during superficial excavations, inside the castle walls, pieces of polished flint, a whetstone and several shards of prehistoric pottery were discovered. Also, in 1954 a Roman coin minted in the 4th century was found. In 1995 more serious excavation works started. Proof was found that the castle site once housed a Celtic oppidum and a Roman fort.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.