Château de la Bourdaisière origins date back to the 14th century when it was a fortress belonging to Jean Meingre. Over the next few generations, the property changed hands several time, until 1520 when King Francis I arranged for construction of a new castle on the site. Built for his mistress, Marie Gaudin, the wife of Philibert Babou, Superintendent of Finances for France, after her death, the property would remain in the family's hands. Marie Gaudin's granddaughter, Gabrielle d'Estrées, was born in the château and would herself grow up to become mistress to another king, Henry IV of France.
In 1775, the château was partially destroyed by order of King Louis XV's most powerful Minister, Étienne François, Duc de Choiseul. Étienne François wanted to use the stones from Château de la Bourdaisière for the construction of his Pagoda at his estate in Chanteloup, near Amboise.
Lying in ruins, in 1786 the land was sold to Louise Adélaïde of Penthièvre Bourbon. In 1802 the property was acquired by Baron Joseph Angelier who undertook a massive reconstruction of Château Bourdaisière. The interior work would be completed by his son, Gustave Angelier. Although a small château, when compared to the great châteaux of the Kings and some of those built by other wealthy nobles, it is a magnificent Renaissance construction fronted by traditional French gardens.
During World War II, the château was occupied by the Nazis. After the war, a lack of funds by its owner saw it become severely run down. In 1959, its contents were auctioned off and government turned the château into a home for the elderly.
In 2003, Château de la Bourdaisière gained considerable attention in North America, as the primary site for the television show Joe Millionaire. In 2011, the chateaus gardens were finalist for the European Garden Award bestowed by the European Garden Heritage Network. The château was listed as a monument historique in 1947. Today it functions as a hotel.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.