Located near the Regional Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis of Gela is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily. The area was already occupied in prehistoric times by indigenous settlements dating from between the 4th and 2nd millennia BC. After a period of neglect, this site was occupied again around the 8th century BC by a small settlement prior to the founding of Gela, a proto-colony which had been given the name of Lindioi, as reported by historians Thucydides and Herodotus. Lindioi was therefore a first outpost-emporium that paved the way to the foundation of Gela by the Rhodians led by Antiphemus and the Cretans led by Entimus.
In the first half of the 8th century BC, some buildings were built in this area, such as a sacellum dedicated to Athena Lindia, the patron goddess of the city, whose remains were then incorporated into the foundations of a second temple built during the 6th century BC, which is still dedicated to Athena.
It was in the 5th century BC that the acropolis underwent its greatest transformation. Under the Deinomenids, tyrants of the city, an important project of monumentalization was started through the construction of imposing buildings. In 480 BC, following the victory of the Greeks over the Carthaginians in the Great Battle of Himera, the tyrant Hieron of Gela decided to build a new temple dedicated to Athena, of which only one column remains today. The sacred building, with a peristasis of 6 x 12 columns, was adorned with marble elements imported from the Cyclades, decorated with polychrome motifs. The other buildings in the area were also magnificently enriched with architectural elements, such as equestrian acroteria and terracotta antefixes.
The acropolis, as proven by some layers of rubble, was destroyed in 405 BC after the city was looted by the Carthaginians led by Himilko. A stoa (market) was installed by reusing materials and remains of the ancient temples, between the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th century BC, which can still be seen in the the well-preserved structures located on the north side.Following the refoundation of Gela (339 BC) by Timoleon on the west side of the hill, the area of the acropolis was definitively abandoned. There were only a few columns left from the ancient primeval site , of which historical traces remain in the tales by Al-Idrisi (12th century AD) and Guido delle Colonne (13th century AD).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.