Following a plague that afflicted Brescia between 1480 and 1484, there were rumours that a votive fresco depicting the Madonna and Child in front of a house in the San Nazario quarter had developed miraculous powers. On the wave of popular religious fervour, the Catholic church began negotiations in 1486 for the purchase of the house. In 1488, the construction of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli began.
The interior, but not the façade, of the church was severely damaged by bombardment during the Second World War. The exterior was protected by wooden scaffolding. The interior has been subsequently restored.
The church plan with its cylindrical anterior dome was designed by Ludovico Beretta before 1490. The most striking element is the elaborately decorated marble reliefs in the façade screen and portico designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, and completed with the help of a large number of sculptors, including the recently arrived Sanmicheli. The sculpted profusion recalls the Renaissance exterior of the Charterhouse of Pavia.
The porch, added later, is divided into four columns by straight grooves which rest all on one high base and supporting a rectangular tribune, in a turn topped by a narrow kiosk with triangular pediment. The interior is a square divided into three naves by pillars and columns, with a pentagonal apse.
The work of the Sanmicheli corresponding to the base level was the most refined of the façade, and was accomplished by the year 1500. Meanwhile, the religious building underwent rapid development, thanks to the growing number of worshippers and their alms, and was expanded to its current size. The architectural scores in the interior, characterized by decorative characters are attributed to Gasparo Cairano and his studio. The same sculptor also executed the cycle of the Apostles for the first dome, interspersed with the cycle of Angels by Tamagnino, all of which were delivered and paid for in 1489.
Over the centuries, the sanctuary was enriched by artistic works, mainly paintings, including a compelling canvas of St Nicholas of Bari presenting two children to the Virgin (1539) by Moretto, which is now in the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo. Grazio Cossali's frescoes on the Baptism of Christ and Adoration by the Shepherds are still in the church. The cycle of canvases of the Life of Jesus, painted by a number of artists including Tommaso Bona and Piermaria Bagnadore, is found in the presbytery.References:
Hluboká Castle (Schloss Frauenberg) is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site. During its history, the castle was rebuilt several times. It was first expanded during the Renaissance period, then rebuilt into a Baroque castle at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It reached its current appearance during the 19th century, when Johann Adolf II von Schwarzenberg ordered the reconstruction of the castle in the romantic style of England's Windsor Castle.
The Schwarzenbergs lived in Hluboká until the end of 1939, when the last owner (Adolph Schwarzenberg) emigrated overseas to escape from the Nazis. The Schwarzenbergs lost all of their Czech property through a special legislative Act, the Lex Schwarzenberg, in 1947.
The original royal castle of Přemysl Otakar II from the second half of the 13th century was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century by the Lords of Hradec. It received its present appearance under Count Jan Adam of Schwarzenberg. According to the English Windsor example, architects Franz Beer and F. Deworetzky built a Romantic Neo-Gothic chateau, surrounded by a 1.9 square kilometres English park here in the years 1841 to 1871. In 1940, the castle was seized from the last owner, Adolph Schwarzenberg by the Gestapo and confiscated by the government of Czechoslovakia after the end of World War II. The castle is open to public. There is a winter garden and riding-hall where the Southern Bohemian gallery exhibitions have been housed since 1956.