Thanks to its beautiful location on a slight hill above Lake Murten, the little medieval town of Murten (Morat in French) has become a popular tourist destination. In the evening, you really must watch the sunset over the lake, with magnificent views of Mont Vully and the Jura.
In 1013 the area was fortified by King Rudolph III of Burgundy. The fortifications were attacked and occupied by Odo II of Blois-Champagne in 1032 during the conflict after Rudolph's death. Odo only held Murten briefly before Emperor Conrad II besieged and destroyed the castle. In 1079 Emperor Henry IV granted Muratum and other properties to the Bishop of Lausanne.
Murten was founded by Duke Berchtold IV of Zähringen or Landri de Durnes, the Bishop of Lausanne in either 1159 or during the 1170-1180s next to the fortress. Murten was first mentioned as a city in 1238. After his death the German emperor Frederic II recognized Murten as a 'Free Imperial Town'. It did not last long – in 1255 Murten fell under the protection of Count Peter of Savoy. Later it changed hands several times.
On 22 June 1476, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, laid siege to the place in an action known as the Battle of Morat. The town hung on for 13 days but finally was saved by the Bernesearmy. The enemy's army was destroyed completely — some 10,000 Burgundians were killed. Since then, Murten celebrates the victory every year on June 22.
The town is encircled with medieval walls built between 12th and 15th centuries. The rampart walk offers views to the lake, castle and old town.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.