The Church of the Gesù is one of the most important Baroque churches in Palermo. The Jesuits arrived in Palermo in 1549, and by the late 16th century began building a church adjacent to their mother house (Casa Professa). The original design called for a single nave with large transepts and several side chapels, but it was changed by the early 17th century, to a more grandiose layout typical of Jesuit architecture. Natale Masuccio removed the chapels' dividing walls to add two side naves to the central one. The church was consecrated in 1636.
The interior decoration included marble bas-reliefs on the tribuna depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds (1710–14) and Adoration of the Magi (1719–21), by Gioacchino Vitagliano, after designs attributed to Giacomo Serpotta - both reliefs survive. A fresco of the Adoration of the Magi was also added to the walls of the second side-chapel to the right by Antonino Grano in the 1720s. The church also contains a relief of the Glory of St Luke by Ignazio Marabitti.
In 1943, during the Second World War, a bomb collapsed the church's dome, destroying most of the surrounding walls and most of the wall paintings in the chancel and transepts. These frescoes were replaced during two years' restoration work, after which the church reopened in 2009.
The facade is divided into two sections by a cornice. In the lower part there are three portals, above are niches with statues of St Ignatius of Loyola, a Madonna with Child and Francis Xavier. The upper section is divided by pilasters and framed on both sides with corbels and statues of saints. The facade is surmounted by a curved-segmented gable and the Jesuit emblem. Masucci originally planned belfries, but these were not completed, and the current 18th-century campanile was built on the adjacent Palazzo Marchesi. Behind the church, the Jesuit chapter houses the town library.
The layout is in the shape of a Latin cross. The nave is decorated with polychrome marbles, stucco and frescoes. In particular, the marble reliefs with their figural and ornamental motifs on the pillars and the marble mosaics are unique. The rebuilt structure has a double dome and stained glass windows.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.