San Pablo Monastery

Peñafiel, Spain

In 1324, Infante Don Juan Manuel erected the contemporary Gothic-Mudejar convent, where he was subsequently buried, in what was once a fortress built by Alfonso X, the Wise. This emblematic monument was declared a Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1931 and can currently be visited on a free or guided tour.

This Heritage of Cultural Interest boasts a façade with exuberant brick arches, made in the Gothic-Mudejar style, which contrast radically with the luxurious decoration of the funerary chapel of the Manuel family, which was built two centuries later in the Plateresque style.

The chapel’s centrepiece is a window with Gothic tracery framed by two pilasters and an arch. Two coats of arms representing the chapel owners flank the window. One rests above a semicircular tower, which corresponds inside with a spiral staircase without a centre post. This staircase leads up to a balcony.

Don Juan Manuel de Villena’s funerary chapel, built in a Plateresque style with Gothic reminiscences, is a stunning example of Spanish Renaissance art. It was built in very white limestone, worked meticulously and has been preserved in a very good state. It is one of Peñafiel’s star attractions for lovers of cultural tourism.

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Founded: 1324
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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Beckov Castle

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.