Beinwil Abbey was founded in 1085, probably by the local nobility. After conflicts arising from the territorial claims of the towns of Solothurn and Basle against the Counts of Thierstein, who acted as the abbey's Vögte (lords protectors), it was burnt down in 1445. After Beinwil had been taken over by Solothurn in 1519, the town authorities impounded much of the abbey's possessions.
By the 16th century only a few monks were left in the abbey, and it was formally dissolved in 1554. A small community remained, the care of which was assumed firstly by Einsiedeln Abbey, in 1589, and then, from 1622, by Rheinau Abbey. As no monastic revival could be achieved in the remoteness of its situation, it was decided to re-settle the community at Mariastein Abbey, a new foundation in a pilgrimage centre, which took place in 1648. In anticipation of this, Mariastein became a member of the Swiss Congregation, now part of the Benedictine Confederation. From Mariastein, at the end of the 18th century, it was at length possible to revive Beinwil, and at that time the church and the monastic premises were rebuilt.
The abbey was however suppressed in 1874 by plebiscite during the Kulturkampf, and the community of Mariastein went into exile.
The abbey church, dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa was destroyed by fire in 1978. It has now been comprehensively restored and a high altar has been installed, dated about 1700, from Bellwald. Today the former abbey is used as an ecumenical conference and retreat centre.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.