Villa Pisani is the name shared by a number of villas commissioned by the patrician Pisani family of Venice. However, Villa Pisani usually refers to a large, late baroque villa at Stra.
The construction was begun in the early 18th century for Alvise Pisani, the most prominent member of the Pisani family, who was appointed doge in 1735. The initial models of the palace by Paduan architect Girolamo Frigimelica still exist, but the design of the main building was ultimately completed by Francesco Maria Preti. The villa has on its walls the works of Giambattista Tiepolo and other famous painters.
When it was built the building had 114 rooms, in honour of its owner, the 114th Doge of Venice Alvise Pisani. The most important room is the 'Napoleon Room' and its near bathroom, furnished with pieces from the Napoleonic and Habsburg periods and others from the Pisani period.
In 1807 it was bought by Napoleon from the Pisani Family, now in poverty due to great losses in gambling. In 1814 the building became the property of the House of Habsburg who transformed the villa into a place of vacation for the European aristocracy of that period. In 1934 it was partially restructured to host the first meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, after the riots in Austria.
From the outside, the facade of the oversized palace appears to command the site, facing the Brenta River some 30 kilometers from Venice. The villa is part of a series of villas, which the Venetian noble families and merchants started to build in the 15th century. However, unlike the earlier buildings, which were designed as to be a pleasure house and an agricultural enterprise, Villa Pisani was primarily built as a demonstration of the power achieved by the family, since one of them, Alvise Pisani, was elected doge in 1735.
The broad façade is topped with statuary, and presents an exuberantly decorated center entrance with monumental columns shouldered by caryatids. It shelters a large complex with two inner courts and acres of gardens, stables, and a maze. Giovanni Tiepolo decorated the massive frescoed ceiling depicting the Glory of the Pisani family (painted 1760–1762). Additional frescoes and paintings are by his son Gian Domenico Tiepolo, Crostato, Jacopo Guarana, Jacopo Amigoni, P.A. Novelli, and Gaspare Diziani. The bombastic allusions of the ceiling echo in the now uninhabited shell of a palace. The remainder of its nearly 100 rooms are now empty; on the first floor there are several rooms with furniture of the 18th and 19th century.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.