Hodegetria Monastery is one of the oldest and grandest monasteries on Crete, with its history closely linked to that of small monasteries and hermitages in the Asteroussia region.
It is a citadel-type monastery, with a large fortified tower in its courtyard that protected the monks from pirates arriving by sea in the south. According to tradition, this tower was initially built by Nikiforos Fokas in 961 AD. However, the present-day tower is more recent, built at the site of the first one during the era of Venetian rule, but retaining many of its Byzantine characteristics.
The two-aisled church at the centre of the courtyard is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Apostles.
Several additions have been made to the initial structure and its interior includes murals, portable icons by renowned painters, an artful chancel screen and important holy vestments.
During the era of Ottoman rule, the monastery served as the seat and refuge of revolutionaries and its history has been linked with Xopateras, a dynamic monk who fought the Ottomans laying siege to the Monastery on his own. After the Ottomans killed him, they set fire to the tower and destroyed the monastery.
The monastery includes wonderful 15th century icons by the painter Angelos, such as the Life-giving Fontand Saint Fanourios, while the murals of the chapels and nearby churches, which are also worthy of note, were painted during various eras.
There is a small museum with an old oil press, a stone oven, old farming tools, a wine press and other utensils.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.