The Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas has been since its foundation part of the Cistercian monastery in Žďár nad Sázavou. The Cistercian monastery existed after 1250 thanks to magnate of Křižanov whose name was Přibyslav. Early history of the monastery was described in Cronica domus Sarensis by monk Jindřich Řezbář. The chronicle was written in Latin and it is part of the top middle-age literature. The church was elevated to the honour of a Minor basilica on January 5, 2009.
Historical and political situation brought together three very important people of our middle-age history. Those three were husbands of Přibyslav’s daughters. The husband of their daughter Eufemia – Boček of Zbraslav, finished the foundation of the monastery. After his death his brother-in-law, the husband of Eliška, Smil of Lichtenburk took care of the monastery. Přibyslav’s eldest daughter Zdislava left with Havel of Lemberk and she died far away – in Podještědí. She is one of the Czech saints.
The Cistercians with the leading authority of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux pointing towards monastic discipline founded monasteries in the places which were difficult to access since they wanted to come closer to God with their hard work. They chose a border forest between Moravia and Bohemia. The wall painting in the baptismal chapel shows the year 1462 – Pope Pius II allowing abbots of Žďár to use pontifical regalia. The church itself was founded on the life-giving spring and afterwards it was called Fons Beatae Mariae Virginis – the spring of Virgin Mary. Studniční chapel (the Well Chapel) was part of a cloister and the debris of garden of Eden show the period of prosperity and decay of this place. The statue of the Well Virgin Mary is very important for the monastery. It is to be seen on the side altar in southern aisle. This early Gothic masterpiece was brought by monks of Pomuk. They were running away from the Hussite fury.
After the year 1705 when Václav Vejmluva became a head of the religious communities came the time when there was an architectonic and artistic flourish of the monastery. The masterpiece of this period is the altar of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary whose concept was made by Jan Blažej Santini Aichel. The dominant of this is the dualistic picture of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. The author of this paiting is Michael Leopold Willmann. The decoration of the monastery was done by very talented Řehoř Theny. This sculptor is the author of the altar in the south chapel of Annuniation of the Virgin Mary (Zvěstování Panny Marie). This sculpture shows the moment when archangel Gabriel annunciated Virgin Mary that she would have a son. The light is falling onto Mary’s face and the repose urges the visitor to stay still for a while. A perfect example of Santini's creative inventiveness is a built-in music stand and Empire dominant organ in the transept of the church. This rare musical instrument comes from the workshop of Jan David Sieber.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.