The village of Będzin originated in the 9th century. The local wooden fort, that the records show existed as early as the 11th century, was destroyed during the Tatar invasion in 1241 and subsequently rebuilt.
During the reign of Casimir III the Great the castle received an upgrade from wooden fortress to a stone one, and the stone fort was operational as early as in 1348. The growing trading village of Bytom was given Magdeburg Law city rights shortly afterwards, in 1358.
The castle was meant to be a military outpost on the southwestern border of the Kingdom of Poland (later, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). It was the most westward fortification, and was meant to hold off any invasion coming to Lesser Poland from Bohemian or Silesian lands. In 1364 the castle was visited by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1588, Maximilian III, Archduke of Austria, was held prisoner in here, after his defeat in the War of the Polish Succession (1587–1588).
The castle fell into disrepair in the late 16th century. The fire of 1616 and damage during The Deluge in 1657 resulted in the further destruction. The fortress was periodically repaired, but due to shifts in the layout of the borders and relations between Poland and its neighbours, it lost much of its importance. After the partitions of Poland, Będzin fell into Prussian control and the castle became property of the Hohenzollern family. In 1807, the nearby lands were transferred to the Duchy of Warsaw, and in 1815, to the Congress Poland. In 1825 the castle was virtually falling apart, and when a piece of the stone crushed a passerby, demolition of the castle was ordered, but before it was started, the castle was declared a monument. In the 1830s the castle was bought by Count Edward Raczyński and partially rebuilt, with a Protestant church temporarily housed inside, but after Raczyński's death in 1845 plans to open an academy or a hospital there were abandoned, and the castle once again fell into disrepair.
The castle was not rebuilt again until the times of People's Republic of Poland, when in 1952–1956, a museum was opened there.
The castle became the site of a museum, Zagłębie Museum in 1956. The museum has several collections: one of armament, from medieval to World War II times; second dedicated to the history of the Będzin Castle; third to the castles of the other nearby castles founded by Casimir the Great (Eagle Nests Trail or Szlak Orlich Gniazd) and the final one, to the military history of the Będzin region.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.