Hallwyl Castle is one of the most important moated castles in Switzerland. It is located on two islands in the River Aabach, just north of the northern end of Lake Hallwil. Since 1925, it has been open to the public, and since 1994 it has been owned by the canton of Aargau and is part of the museum of Aargau.
The first mention of the castle is in the year 1256. However, the originally free noble family of Hallwyl were first mentioned in a testament from 1167. Some discoveries indicate that the castle was founded in the late 12th century. Hallwyl Castle was the home castle of the Lords of Hallwyl, who owned the surrounding land and parts of the lake as their personal property. It consisted of a residential tower with a dry moat. In 1265 the keepwas expanded.
In the early 14th century the dry ditch was converted into a moat. The old castle tower was surrounded by a moat and a wall on what became the Rear Island. To the east of the Rear Island, an artificial island was built in the River Aabach. This island, the Front Island, was outfitted with a curtain wall, and was occupied by residential and commercial buildings. During the conquest of Aargau in 1415 by the Swiss Confederation, the castle (which was known after 1369 as the Ganerbenburg) was burnt by the Bernese troops. The castle was immediately rebuilt and expanded.
After the construction of two turrets in 1500 and 1579-1590 there was an extensive general renovation. After long neglect, the castle was partly rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1861 and 1870-74. However, this project was mostly reversed in 1914.
In 1925 the family foundation made an effort to preserve the castle. Since 1994, it has been in possession of the Canton of Aargau.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.