The Matris Domini Monastery was an enclosed female monastery. It houses a museum featuring several medieval frescoes with religious themes. The monastery was founded during the second half of the 13th century by the Dominican Order to house a community of nuns. There is no certain date for the foundation, probably during the rule of Bishop Algiso da Rosate or that of Erbordo Ungano. Its church was consecrated on 25 March 1273 by Bishop Guiscardo Suardi.
From its beginning the monastery experienced the continuous development and growth of its community. It was rebuilt in 1359 and was enlarged in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, but it was suppressed during the occupation of Italy by French forces during the Napoleonic Wars.
In modern times, it was converted into a Gestapo prison during the German occupation of Italy during World War II. The monastery was eventually returned to its own original function and to the nuns.
The monastery displays in Romanesque frescoes. Dating from the 13th and the 14th century, they are among the earliest examples of the fresco painting art in Lombardy, some of them are among the most ancient altogether.
Together with the Visitation, other frescoes are displayed, some of them well preserved. Scenes include the Just, the Blessed, two Angels with a trumpet, Saint Peter on the throne, the Hell, all attributed to the Master of the Life Tree.
The museum also houses five polychrome glass circles are displayed, originating from the 14th century stained glass window which decorated the apse of the old church. They are the oldest vitreous work in Lombardy.
The largest displays the Virgin and Blessing Child and shares with the two circles depicting the angels the peculiarity of the face and the hands devoid of color. The other two circles show, respectively, Saint Dominic Blessing and Peter of Verona, the first Dominican saint.
Next to the museum, also part of the convent complex, is the church, consecrated in 1273 and composed, following the female monasteries tradition, by an internal chapel constituted by a nave and two aisles, and by the external church.
The latter was radically transformed in the 17th century into a luminous Baroque environment, decorated by stuccoes and frescoes, including some by Pietro Baschenis, as well as several altarpieces situated in the side chapels.
Above the main altar is the 17th-century altarpiece of the Annunciation, executed by an unknown master; at its sides there are the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds (also by an unknown artist) and the Massacre of the Innocents by Pietro Ricchi.References:
Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura River. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1996–1997, it replaces the original 13th-century church that was destroyed in a fire. The new church is of 'prescribed cross' type, having doors on three sides. The internal part of the church is decorated with the frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.
The fortress was established in the 4th century and it was a Persian citadel. It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (1089–1125). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.