The fortress of Real Fuerte de la Concepción (Royal Fortress of the Conception) is a star fortress built in the Vaubanesque style. In 1640, following the death of Philip II, the conflict known as the Portuguese Restoration War began. The Spanish King began to make plans to recover the throne of Portugal and part of these plans was the strengthening of fortifications along the border along with the construction of new fortress along the border of the two countries. The Fortress of the Concepcion was one of the new fortresses constructed by order of the Duke of Osuna, commander of the Spanish Army and was located in this area to serve as a military station for the Spanish army to recover Portugal.
The construction of the fortress began in 1663. The first phase of construction was completed in 1664 taking just 40 days. This first phase sore the construction built around a large central courtyard with Pentagon bastions built in each corner with reinforced earthworks around the perimeter with addition of bundle of brushwood fascine’s and filled Baskets of woven wicker timbers woven around steaks in circles to form Redoubts. The fort was garrisoned by 1500 infantrymen and 200 cavalrymen.
Spanish troops were defeated by the Portuguese in the Battle of Castelo Rodrigo. The King of Spain took control from Osuna and ordered the demolition of the first Fort Concepción under a year after the start of the building. It was not a total demolition, as it was still sporadically used as base for the troops.
In 1735, the military engineer Pedro Moreau took on the construction of a new fort of the Concepción. The fort was completed in 1758.
However, in the War of Independence, the fort was to play a prominent role. Napoleon's decision to take control of Portugal and put his brother José on the Spanish throne would transform the fort into a major stage. The British landed in Portugal. At its command was Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The enormous territory surrounding Fort Concepción was to become a battlefield throughout the Spanish War of Independence. In the summer of 1810, the French besieged Ciudad Rodrigo and the brigadier Herrasti surrendered the square to the French Marshall Rey. On 21 July 1810, the British blew up Fort Concepción during their withdrawal. The four revellines which protected its walls were destroyed, as were two of its strongholds. A large part of its walls crumbled. The small fort of San José and the circular barracks of Caballerizas were also blown up by British gunners. The ravages of gunpowder can still be observed 200 years later.
After the war, the fort fell by the wayside. With its walls half in ruins, locals used the building as a quarry until the middle of the 20th century: many residents of the area went there to find stones to build their houses. The naves of the fort were also used by nearby shepherds and cattle farmers to house cattle and also for growing mushrooms.
In 2006, the current owners bought the ruins of Fort Concepción. They immediately began to began to rehabilitate the site, enhance its value and transform it into a hotel. This great transformation came to fruition in 2012 when the Real Fuerte de la Concepción reopened, this time as a luxury hotel: the only military Vaubam-style fortress in Europe to be renovated into a luxury hotel. And once and for all, it welcomes everyone – whether Spanish, Portuguese, French or English – with open arms to enjoy an environment of total peace.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.