Originally the Ducal Palace of Lerma had immense gardens below it, on the banks of the river, with fountains, stately homes and seven chapels, of which one (Cristo) remains. All documents relating to its construction have been conserved. A 17th-century work, building started in 1601 under commission from Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma. Its architect was Francisco de Mora and is it is considered de Mora's masterwork and one of the finest buildings of that era.
During the Spanish Civil War the building was used as a prison. It is currently used as a parador.
The doorway is crowned by a frontispiece held up by columns. The large walnut door is decorated with 520 bronze nails. Above the door are two of the duke's coat-of-arms, decorated with laurel. The railings of the windows and balconies are painted blue and gold.
The interior of the patio round arches on each side. The columns are made of single pieces of granite (the quarries were owned by the duke). On the upper level the columns do not support arches, but rather a running frieze with iron balconies between them, and windows which were originally made from walnut wood.
The palace has four towers at the corners, whose spires were also recovered after the restoration works. No palace could have more than two towers except those belonging to kings, but the Duke of Lerma was given this privilege due to his great powers in Court.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.