Founded towards the end of the 11th century by Bishop Gerlando, this Norman-Gothic style Agrigento Cathedral was enlarged and remodelled several times as of the 14th and up till the 17th century, only preserving, of the original structure, its magnificent mullioned windows still visible on the right side. Its facade is accessed by a wide, easy staircase, flanked by the magnificent, unfinished 15th century belltower embellished by two sequences of blind, Gothic-Catalan mullioned windows and a window with a balcony surmounted by a beautiful, richly decorated pointed arch.
The interior, shaped like a Latin cross, has three naves divided by pointed arches standing on octagonal pillars, a magnificent, richly painted, wooden ceiling, portraying the two-headed eagle of Charles V and rich stuccoes and frescos giving the whole environment a certain sumptuousness. A small chapel of San Gerlando opens off to the right of the transept, surmounted by a finely modelled Gothic portal, and holds the Arc, a 1639 relic. We would like to point out the Chapel De Marinis in the left hand nave. In the right apse, a 1495 marble group of the Madonna with Child and several other grave monuments enriching this great monument’s magnificent interior.
Of outstanding importance the Cathedral Treasure, particularly rich in works of great historical and artistic value, including the famous sarcophagus of Phaedra, a stupendous, elegant, marble, Roman work of the 3rd century AD. inspired by the 5th century Greek style. Described and praised by all the great foreign travellers to Sicily in the 18th century, from Riedesel to Bartels, this masterpiece (currently kept in the Church of San Nicola) found in the Roman necropolis of Agrigentum, portrays some episodes from the myth of Phaedra and Hippolytus. Opposite the cathedral, in the same square, the Episcopal Seminary, founded by Bishop Narullo in 1574 and completed in 1611. Its interior includes a wide, elegant porticoed atrium with two sequences of loggias.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.