Monastery of Santa María de Huerta foundation was made by the king Alfonso VII of León and Castile, in fulfilment of a promise he made in the siege of Coria. For this project, the king brought in 1142, from the abbey of Berdoues in Gascony (France), a community of Cistercian monks, with their abbot Rodulfo. The monastery ransfer to the lands near the Jalón river in 1162. Alfonso VII of León and Castile laid the first stone of this new construction on March 20 of 1179. It is believed that the works were made under the direction of the master of the cathedral of Sigüenza. They advanced very quickly thanks to the royal protection and the abundant donations.
In 1215, Martín Muñoz, mayordomo mayor of Henry I, nephew of the abbot Martin of Hinojosa, paid for the works of the refectory. In the 16th century he obtained aid and benefits from Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II of Spain. Other constructions were built and the monastic complex enlarged.
In 1833, according to the Ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal, the monks were expelled and only the church remained as parish. Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, marquis of Cerralbo, made an exhaustive study of the entire monument, taking charge of making known the history and inventory of the works of art. Thanks to his work, this monastery could be saved from total ruin. In 1882 it was declared a national monument.
Since 1930, the monastery has been a community of monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (Trappists).
One of its most outstanding features is the Gothic cloister, although it also contains other interesting elements such as a 12th-century kitchen or an extraordinary refectory, which is considered to be a masterpiece of Cistercian art. This 12th-century refectory only has one nave, although it is very illuminated and presents oval-shaped vaults on the ceiling. Its originality is due to the open staircase on the wall that passes through arches until it reaches the pulpit. A horizontal window connects the refectory with the kitchen, which is divided into three naves with a great fireplace in the middle.
Other aspects worth mentioning are the Plateresque cloister of Los Caballeros or the keep which shows a strong Mudejar inspiration. The upper level of the cloister is decorated in a Renaissance style, with low arches decorated with medallions, and the lower floor still maintains its original monumental arches. For a modest fee, you can spend the night in this monastery and visit the church the next day.
The church has three naves and inside the most impressive pieces are the major altarpiece and the tombs and urns of the Finojosa family. On the western façade of the building, you can see the main entrance formed by a pointed arch with six archivolts decorated with various types of geometric motifs. Above the door is a massive and impressive rosette formed by four concentric circumferences that are decorated with diamonds and frame twelve tri-lobed arches. There is a Romanesque parlour from the 12th century that was built with many French characteristics and is separated into two naves which also have oval-shaped domes, like the refectory.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.