The Doria Castle of Portovenere is a proper example of Genoese military architecture, even though it has undergone some structural modifications due to the progress of fortifications and firearms. When you first glance at Castello Doria, it looks like one solid piece. But it actually consists of two distinct parts positioned at different levels and enclosed in large Cyclopean walls.
The exact date of construction of the first fortified building is still unknown. Historic documents mention it for the first time in 1139, when the Republic of Genoa took control of the hamlet of Porto Venere. The current castle was built on the remains of the more ancient structure in 1161.
In the 13th century, the castle was at the center of the battles between Genoa and Pisa. It ended up under Nicolò Fieschi’s large fief, to eventually return under the control of the Republic of Genoa in 1276. Major reconstruction works took place between the 15th and 17th centuries, to modernize the castle according to the military and architectonic criteria of the time. At the beginning of the 19th century, during the French rule under Napoleon Bonaparte, the Castello Doria was used as a prison.
Today, this ancient fortress belongs to the Municipality of Portovenere. It underwent a series of accurate restoration works in the 1970s. Apart from welcoming hundreds of visitors for some historic sightseeing and panoramic views of the Bay of Poets, it is also a venue that hosts cultural events, art exhibitions and weddings.
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.