Velez-Malaga’s Alcazaba, or ‘Fortaleza’ as it’s more commonly known, was built in the 10th century. Originally, it was intended not to defend but to subdue the local population, who had traditionally caused a lot of problems for the Moorish rulers. Built on the tallest hill in the immediate area, it was the perfect site from a military point of view, affording long distance views of oncoming enemies and an easily defendable geographical location.
Over the next 500 years, Velez’s fort remained largely the same. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Nasrid kingdom of Granada grew in prominence and solidified Moorish control over the Iberian Peninsula.
The function of the Fortaleza changed dramatically at this time as it became one of the most important strongholds in the Nasrid Kingdom. The outer walls of the Alcazaba sheltered and protected the local population and the buildings inside the inner walls provided a great level of fortification in the event of attacks on the area.
Christian King Fernando eventually conquered the fort of Velez-Malaga in 1487. Muslims and Jews were expelled from the area and fled to Northern Africa, or were forced to convert to Catholicism.
During the 16th century the competition between European nations was reflected in a shift in function for the Velez fort. Dutch, British, Spanish and Moorish pirates and privateers on the Mediterranean took advantage of the now poorly defended villages and settlements to raid for slaves.
Velez became one of a system of forts along the coast. From its position on the highest point of the area, the fort would provide advanced warning to residents of approaching raiders or oncoming enemy armies and then shelter residents until the danger had passed.
At the end of the 19th century, the need for forts had diminished so drastically that the hilltop on which the Fortaleza sits was assigned for use as a quarry. The buildings fell into disrepair and were closed to the public.
The main keep and south-facing castle wall are the only parts of the original site that have been fully restored. You can also see remains of many buildings around the site. All of these buildings are from the last time that improvements were made to the Alcazaba, with the 18th-century occupants installing the latest in military equipment at the time.
Remains of a fortified stable building can be seen around the courtyard within the inner castle walls. The courtyard was built in line with best military practices of the time and was used to store weapons for local troops. The semicircular wall to the south, facing the sea, originally housed six battery guns that would have been a first defense against attackers coming from the ocean. Around all of the inner castle walls there was originally a moat, although traces of this are hard to find.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.