Church of Saint John the Baptist is one of the fortified churches of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was founded in 1603 by Jan Rudomin Dusicki and Jan Hajecki. The name of the architect is unknown. Construction took three years so in 1606 the church was opened and was active since then. In 1643 a hospital was founded by the church for the dwellers of the village and nearby area.
During the war against Russia the church was burnt down by the Russian army, but rebuilt soon afterwards. In the Great Northern War the church got under cannon fire from the Sweden army and was damaged again. During the reconstruction of the building cannonballs were planted inside the walls as a tribute to the tragic war events. In 1778 a chapel and a crypt were built by the southern side of the church.
The church was active even in Soviet times, which is a rare case as communists persecuted religion and closed or even ruined many churches around the country. In 2010-2011 the church underwent a planned repair.
The church is a beautiful example of the defensive Gothic architecture once popular in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Only a limited number of fortified churches survived until now so it has a great historical and architectural value. Later Renaissance elements were added.
The church was initially built in a symmetrical way with three naves supported by four columns. After the church was damaged for the first time, the columns were removed and the church became a single-nave. Dimensionally it is close to the square and has an apse and a sacristy. The facade is flanked by two cylindrical towers with rounded embrasures. Both towers are sixteen meters tall and five meters in diameter with the walls over two meters in thickness.
The outer side of the church is almost free from the decorative elements except for four niches on the upper frontside.
There is an old cross near the church. It was installed about 15th-16th century. The cross is two and a half meters high and was carved of a single granite stone.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.