The Benedictine Skalka Abbey was founded by Jakub I. in Skalka, in 1224, to commemorate St. Svorad-Andrew and Beňadik. Jakub built a monastery near the cave where St. Beňadik was slain and later a church on the rock from which his body was thrown into the Váh river. King Béla IV annexed a village called Geszte (today’s Opatová) to the abbey in 1238. The monastery grew in significance and soon became the spiritual centre of the Považie (river Váh) region.
The monastery’s development was interrupted by invasion of the Tartars in 1241. In late June, their northern hoards, defeated by the Czech king Václav I., massively fled to the old Hungary through the Vlársky mountain pass. They would plunder villages and towns with fire and sword, which also affected the monastery. In the years 1300-1321, life of the local people and of the monastery felt the iron fist of Matthew the Czak. The following period of a hundred years between 1321 and 1421 passed calmly, and nobody would disturb the godly life of the monks. They preached the word of god and did missionary work. In 1421 came the Hussite armies, with the rich Skalka standing in their way. The monastery would change various owners in the period of 1528 to 1545.
Jesuits came to Skalka in 1665 and started the haydays of the monastery In 1667 they began to reconstruct the monastery and the adjoining buildings, and built a calvary. The Jesuits were advocates of a new style used in arts – Baroque. Their gardens would have the most appealing kinds of fruit that was precious and known in the region of Považie, and beyond the Morava River as well. In 1713 they built a stove to dry plums and other fruits. They even had their own breeding fruit orchards. Behind gardens were mountains where the flocks of the best sheep were bred for high quality wool. The monks had fisheries; they even built a cellar to preserve ice. It was in 1722 when the monks dug a well in front of the monastery.
The Pope Clement XIV put the Jesuit order to an end on July 21, 1773. Monastery at Skalka thus lost much of its former significance and began to fall apart. Today, the only things remaining of the original monastery are the ruins.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.