The Castle of the Masovian Dukes in Płock is a Gothic castle built under the reign of Casimir III the Great, becoming a stronghold of the Dukes of Masovia until the fifteenth century. The castle is located on a steep Vistulan hillside, most likely since the eleventh century, a wooden fortress - defended by walls and dikes, where in the middle there was a small stone built stronghold. On the turning point of the eleventh and twelfth century, when one of the largest Masovian strongholds where already located on the hillside - a chapel and wall-defended living quarters were built in 1194.
At the end of the thirteenth century, the raising of the castle had begun, when the stronghold was fortified, and took on its current form under the reign of Casimir III the Great. The expansion of the castle was done on the hillside of the former stronghold, which was reconstructed with bricks and expanded, the stronghold was also raised with two towers. The castle was built in square-shaped complex. In the south-west of the complex, the Szlachecka Tower was raised - with a squared base and lower half; and an octagonal upper half. In the northern part of the castle, by a Romanesque building, there is a clock tower. The castle's courtyard is closed off by the north-western, eastern and southern wing. The castle is fortificated by a double encirclement of defensive walls - securing the stronghold and Płock, being just outside the castle's walls.
The castle was a residence of the Masovian Dukes up until the fifteenth century. Due to a partial removal of the hillside, in 1532, the castle suffered damage, which was rebuilt. In 1538, the Masovian dukes had resided in the newly built palace, outside the castle walls, allowing the castle complex to be given to the Benedictines. During the times of the wars against the Swedes, the castle was severely damaged, first in 1657, and then in 1705. After the castle's reconstruction, the castle complex became a Baroque architectural style Benedictine Abbey, which existed until 1781. When after the Partitions of Poland, Prussia took over the castle, the authorities ordered some of the defensive walls to be deconstructed. From 1865, the castle hosted spiritual seminars.
After World War II, the castle was renovated, and since 1973, the castle houses a 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.