Monselice town is known of an imposing architectural complex called Castello Cini, which incorporates several diverse types of building. From the 6th to the 16th centuries the castle has changed from a luxurious residence, to defensive tower to become a Venetian villa.The Castle is made up, in fact, of four main nucleuses: the most ancient part is the Roman house (Casa Romanica, 11th century) which together with the Castelletto (12th century) form the first dwelling area.
During the course of the 13th century the Torre Ezzeliniana, an imposing defensive building ordered by Ezzelino III da Romano, was built detached from the main structure. Its inside is characterized by monumental 'tower' fireplaces, unique in Italy for their form and functionality, ordered by the Paduan Lords of Da Carrara in the 14th century.
In 1405, after the birth of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, the complex in Monselice was acquired by the aristocratic Venetian family Marcello, who undertook the construction of Ca' Marcello, a connecting building between the pre-existing structures. The Marcello family then enlarged the central rooms of the Torre Ezzeliniana to form a summer residence, used uninterruptedly until the beginning of the 19th century.
The Venetian nobles gentrified the complex by constructing the elegant Library (16th century) on the esplanade in front of the Tower; by restructuring the Venetian Courtyard (17th century) and adding the private family chapel during the 1700s.
The fall of the Republic of Venice, at the end of the Eighteenth century, marked the slow but progressive decline of the old Monselice castle. The ownership of the Castle passes to various local families, among them the Girardi-Cini, but this does not enhance the fortune of the complex. The final blow was given by the Italian Royal Armed Forces, which during WWI used the Castle for military purposes, abandoning it in 1919 thoroughly sacked of all of its treasures.
In 1935 the estate was inherited by the Earl Vittorio Cini, a man of great intellectual refinement. He undertook an accurate research of the furnishings (furniture, paintings, rugs, tapestries, ceramics, musical instruments and cloth materials) and weapons, recreating on the interior of the castle the medieval and renaissance atmosphere that even today welcomes visitors into residential areas and in the vast Armoury.
Since 1981 ownership of the monumental complex of the Cini Castle of Monselice has passed to the Veneto Regional Authority, becoming a regional museum jointly with the Antiquarium Longobardo and the Mastio Federciano.References:
The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.
The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.
According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.
The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The church is relatively short in length at 105m, but its interior is 33.45m high to the vaulting. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The L"écoute sculpture by Henri de Miller appears outside the church, to the south. A Keith Haring sculpture stands in a chapel of the church.
The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.
With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.