The first cathedral at Toulon existed in the 5th century, but no trace of it remains. The present building was begun in 1096 by Gilbert, Count of Provence, according to tradition in gratitude for his safe return from the Crusades. The first three travées, or bays of the nave, remain from the Romanesque 11th century church, and the present Chapel of Saint Joseph was originally the choir apse. The Chapel of Relics was constructed in the 15th century.
In the winter of 1543–1544 the cathedral, the largest building in the city, was temporarily transformed into a mosque for the 30,000 crew members of the ships of the Ottoman-Barbary admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa, at that time an ally of Francis I of France. The residents of Toulon were temporarily expelled from the city to make room for the Turkish sailors. At the end of the winter, King Francis paid a large bribe to the Turkish admiral to persuade him and his fleet to leave.
As the naval port of Toulon was enlarged by Henri IV and Louis XIV, and the city became more important, the cathedral was also enlarged. Additions between 1654 and 1659 had the effect of enclosing the original Romanesque building and incorporating the Chapel of Relics.
From 1696 to 1701, during the reign of Louis XIV, the Toulon church's classical façade was constructed. Angels on the tympanum of the massive porch, supported on Corinthian columns, hold the arms of Toulon. The façade was badly damaged in the French Revolution, but was restored to its original appearance in 1816. It also displays a memorial plaque from 1239, dedicated to Gilbert of Baux, who died in 1239, and to Gaufridet of Trets and Toulon, and his wife Dame Guillaumette, both of whom died in 1234.
The clock tower was built between 1737 and 1740, around the same time as the monumental gate of the Toulon Arsenal. It is 36 meters high, and three meters thick at the base.
On top of the tower is an iron campanile, where a bell has kept time in Toulon since 1524. The original bells were taken and melted down during the French Revolution. In 1806 and 1807 they were replaced by four new bells.
The most notable work of art in the cathedral is the eighteenth century Baroque retable made to hold the Holy Sacrament, located in the Corpus Christi Chapel. The original retable was designed by the sculptor and painter Pierre Puget, and made of wood. The original was destroyed by fire in 1661, and replaced in 1681 by a replica made of marble and stucco by Puget's nephew and student, Christophe Veyrier.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.