The Château de Culan is a French medieval castle located in the commune of Culan. The castle, listed as a Monument historique at the start of the 20th century and classified for its walls and roofs in 1956, has known a turbulent history. It is built on a rocky outcrop dominating the River Arnon (a site naturel classé - classified natural site). The first wooden construction, of which nothing remains, was demolished in the 10th century. A second building was besieged and destroyed by King Philip II Augustus of France (1188), then at war with Henry II Plantagenet, king of England.
The present castle dates from 12th century until 15th century, with additions from the Renaissance. It has belonged, among the others, to Admiral Louis de Culant (1360 – 1444), to Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully (1599 – 1621), and later the Prince de Condé. In 1651, during the Fronde, Mazarin laid siege to the town with royal troops and destroyed the 15th century ramparts. During the Revolution, the castle lands were shared among several families and the fortress was sold as national property. The castle received several famous visitors: Joan of Arc, Louis XI, Sully, Madame de Sévigné, the novelist George Sand and Ernest Renan. General Charles de Gaulle, visiting Saint-Amand-Montrond after the war, preferred to sleep in a private house in the Rue de l'Église.
The château de Culan is in excellent condition. It was restored between 1950 and 1980 by an earlier owner, Jean Ferragut, who organised exhibitions there (Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet, Flemish tapestries, etc.) It is one of the few castles to still have wooden turrets which allowed stones and other projectiles to be thrown down onto attackers. The castle has beautiful monumental fireplaces from the 15th century. Around the castle, at the end of the 20th century, 'medieval gardens' were laid out.
The present owners, Jean Pierre Marquis and Edouard Marquis (father and son), are continuing the work of restoration and preservation.
The castle is open to visitors every day from Easter to the end of October. Medieval weekends are organised in July and August as well as torchlight tours on some summer evenings.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.