Built on marshy land on the Left Bank of the Gironde, opposite Fort Pâté, Fort Médoc was a key part of Vauban's three-point defence system. Its purpose was to block the passage of ships between Île Pâté and Cussac in the Médoc. Fort Médoc was built in 1689-1690 on low-lying terrain with alluvial soil. The artillery battery was pointed towards Blaye and most of the structure was taken up to house it.
In order to keep the fort from being captured by soldiers disembarking from the estuary, it was necessary to build a structure able to resist such an attack. The square-shaped fort, oriented perpendicularly to the riverbank, consisted of four bastions linked by curtain walls. A demilune protected the imposing Porte Royale on the side furthest from the estuary. This vast entity was in turn protected by a covered walkway, a preliminary moat, and a main moat able to be filled with water by locks.
Two rows of barracks were built inside the square as well as a building to house the Major, a chapel, a bakery, and a gunpowder storage area. The barracks could accommodate 300 soldiers. However, the military role of Fort Médoc turned out to be rather negligible in the course of its history. In fact, it was never attacked. In 1716, thirteen 6 and 8 pound cannons and a rather limited number of cannonballs were nevertheless waiting. By 1789, only a few soldiers, mostly disabled veterans, and three old cannons attested to the fort's military vocation.
After periods of virtual abandon, followed by a renovation, the site was decommissioned by the army in 1916. It became the property of the commune of Cussac in 1930. This part of Vauban's project, executed by the architect Duplessy, is typical of fortifications designed by the French military strategist.
With the citadel of Blaye, its city walls and the Fort Paté, the Fort Médoc was listed in 2008 as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of the 'Fortifications of Vauban' group.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.