Heraclea Minoa was an ancient Greek city situated near the mouth of the river Halycus (modern Platani). Excavations have revealed several parts of the city which are now open to the public.
Archaeological finds from the necropolis show the city was founded in the mid-6th century BC. The first written mention of the city is of a small town and a colony of the Greek settlement of Selinus. The city was only briefly under the control of the Spartans and during the whole of the 5th century BC it was under Akragan control and became very prosperous.
However it was destroyed by the Carthaginians probably in 406 BC. The territory fell under Carthaginian control as a result of the treaty of 405 BC. but the absence of all mention of Heraclea suggests that either it did not then exist or must have been in a very reduced condition. It was won back in 397 BC by Dionysius, but recovered by Carthage in 383 BC.
Little of it is recorded under Roman dominion, but Heraclea Minoa appears to have suffered severely in the First Servile War (134–132 BC) and in consequence received a body of fresh colonists, who were established there by the praetor Publius Rupilius. At the same time the relations of the old and new citizens were regulated by a municipal law, which still subsisted in the time of Cicero, when Heraclea was still flourishing. Soon afterwards it must have fallen into decay, in common with most of the towns on the southern coast of Sicily. Archaeology shows that towards the end of the first century BC the city was abandoned.
In the early 20th century, a mid-6th-early 5th century BC necropolis was discovered. A large-scale excavation by Professor Ernesto de Miro from 1950 uncovered late 4th–late 1st century BC dwellings and the late 4th century BC theatre. The absence of Arretine ware at the site strongly suggests that the city was abandoned by the beginning of the 1st century AD. Many cemeteries and tombs have been excavated in the nearby countryside and many of their grave goods are on display in the on-site museum.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.