Vrbovec castle, which stands at the confluence of the Dreta and Savinja at Nazarje, is regarded as the most important monument of secular medieval architecture in the Upper Savinja Valley. In German it was called Altenburg, while its Slovenian name Vrbovec is associated with the willows (vrba = willow) that once grew along the banks of the two rivers. The original castle, built in the 12th century, stood on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the castle complex, and acquired its current appearance around 1480, with the medieval core of the castle being removed in the 18th century.
Alongside the Aquileia patriarch, the owners of the castle included the mighty house of the Celje Counts, and when they died out the castle was transferred to Austrian ownership. Leigemen of the castle then changed frequently right up until 1615, when it was purchased by the Ljubljana bishopric for its needs. In 1920 the Chapel of St. Joseph was built on top of the outcrop, and the castle itself was renamed Marijingrad. With the occupation in 1941 the castle was seized by the Germans and the chapel was destroyed, since they intended to place anti-aircraft guns at that location.
In 1944 the castle was burned, and at the end of the war it was only partially restored. The Nazarje Forest Corporation saved Vrbovec from the fate of numerous disintegrating castles in Slovenia, carrying out a complete restoration in 1988-1992. Today it houses forestry institutions, the municipal administration, numerous private companies, a restaurant and a museum of forestry and woodworking.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.