Château d'Agel was first mentioned in 1100. In the early 12th century the area was rocked by the scandal of the Cathar Wars or Albigensian Crusade. A local form of Christianity was becoming ever more popular and according to some had already become the majority religion of the area. The Catholic Church regarded it as both a heresy and a threat. The 'heresy' was strongest in the county of Toulouse and all over Languedoc, where vassals of the Count of Toulouse refortified a line of castles to protect themselves against Papal forces. Agel was one of that line of castles refortified to resist the Pope's forces.
The Crusade against the Cathars, led by Simon de Montfort, raged throughout the Languedoc. In Simon's bid to take nearby Minerve in 1210, the château d'Agel was almost entirely destroyed by fire. In July of that year, Minerve fell, and the 180 Cathars who had taken refuge there met their end on a burning pyre.
The Treaty of Paris, which annexed Languedoc to France in 1220, put an end to the Crusade. Guiraud de Pépieux, who had escaped the massacre, set about restoring the château for his descendants. Notarial records dating back to the year 1300 mention another Guillaume de Pépieux as Lord of Aigues-Vives and Agel.
The architecture of the Château d'Agel reflects its continued use over the centuries. Thus for example window styles, vary from the tiny windows of the stark 12th century fortress to the beautiful windows of the Renaissance with ornamental balusters and capitals. During the 17th century, Renaissance embrasures were replaced on the principal frontage by broad bays with small squares in the style of Trianon.
By the first half of the 20th century, the Château had fallen into disrepair, and the northern wing in particular had become a ruin. In the 1960s the Ecal family began the task of restoring the property and its gardens to their former glory. Today Château d'Agel is a grand hotel.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.