Cornštejn Castle stands on a strategic location, surrounded by magnificent landscape of the Dyje (Thaya) River Valley. It was built on royal demesne land which was subordinated to Bítov Castle and which was pawned and later (1308) granted as a fief to the noble family of Lichtenburg. In the 1320s Raimund of Lichtenburg, King Wenceslaus II’s favourite, decided to strengthen the security of Bítov Castle and the road connecting Bítov with Vranov Castle by building Cornštejn.
Originally a small Gothic noble residence with a Courtyard, a high enclosing wall and a palace (guarded by a high shield-wall) gradually developed into a large medieval fortress. In the latter half of 14th century Henry of Lichtenburg built a pre-wall around the whole castle, which is how the Upper Bailey came to being. In the first third of 15th century Albrecht and John of Lichtenburg and Zornstein erected another palace on the other side of the Courtyard and established the Lower Ward with barracks and some other buildings, surrounded by a new ring of curtain walls with two new gates and two bastions.
In 1422 the castle was besieged by the Hussite troops, which afterwards made the lords of the castle fortify the dangerous strategic hill south of Cornštejn with a detached outwork. Cornštejn was again sieged eleven months by King George of Bohemia in 1463. However, Cornštejn turned out to be impossible to be stormed in a few days. King George punished Hynek and confiscated the castle. Cornštejn was subsequently granted to Wolfgang Kraiger of Kraigk who reconstructed the castle and modernised both the palaces. His sons Lipolt and Henry then built an up-to-date advanced fort on the rocky platform south of the castle, reflecting latest trends in artillery warfare. After 1526 the castle got back into the hands of the Lichtenburgs of Bítov. In 1542 the Moravian Estates ordered that Cornštejn be repaired and improved so as to withstand a possible Turkish assault. Fortunately, the Ottoman army never made it to southern Moravia, and Cornštejn was spared.
However, the time of medieval castles was over by the late 16th century and there was no need to maintain Gothic fortresses any longer. After the Lichtenburgs died out in 1576, the new owners – Streuns of Schwarzenau abandoned the castle and may well have got all roofs removed (so as not to pay tax). Thus Cornštejn began to fall into ruin and none of the noble families that owned the castle after the Streuns (1617 Jankovský of Vlašim, 1788 Counts von Daun, 1912 the Haases von Hasenfels) would change anything about it. In 1945, Cornštejn was confiscated from the Haases and nationalised. In the early 1970s two thirds of the castle were reconstructed by the Monument Preservation Institute, Brno. The castle ruins have been stabilised and since 1998 open to public.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.