Palazzo Colonna: home of the nobles and priceless art. Palazzo Colonna is one of the oldest and largest private palaces of Rome and hosts a celebrated art collection. The collected works includes masterpieces of the most important masters from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, including Bronzino, Salviati, Lorenzo Monaco, Tintoretto, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona, Jerome Muziano and many others. During medieval and Renaissance Rome the Colonna (Italian for the word column) family produced dominate politicians, a General, a saint, several Cardinals and Pope Martin V. The nearby Column of Trajan inspired the Colonna coat of arms – a column with a crown on top. The coat of arms is prominently displayed throughout the building.
The palace consists of several wings built by the noble family over several centuries with an overlap of architectural styles. The family has lived there for 23 generations and continues to occupy the palace to this day. Because the palace is also a residence the building is only open to the public on Saturdays.
A visit to Galleria Colonna begins with the Great Hall. It was created to boast the family’s wealth, power and military dominance. Opulence oozes from ever inch of the walls, and floors. The ceiling frescoes recreate Marcantonio Colonna defeat of the Turks in Lepanto in 1571. Also of note is the cannonball embedded in the stairs where it landed during the French siege of Rome on June 24, 1849. The Great Hall was also featured in the film Roman Holiday. Other highlights include the Throne Room which features, as you may expect, a throne that was reserved for papal visits until the 1870′s, when Popes commonly visited the homes of Roman elite. The gallery’s most famous picture is Annibale Caracci’s Bean Eater.
Entrance to Galleria Colonna includes a tour in English at 11:45a and for an additional fee includes a guided visit to the Apartment of Princess Isabella. The preserved apartment offers a look at the luxurious life the family enjoyed and features precious paintings of northern masters such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Gaspard Van Wittel and Gaspard Dughet. Of particular interest are the landscapes of Rome from the late 1800′s that allow visitors to envision what the city looked like at that time. The Prati neighborhood, now an area paved with concrete & buildings, was once covered in trees and other vegetation – who knew!?
Beginning in January 2014 a new wing of the Palace will be open to the public featuring the Chapel Hall, the Artemisia Tapestries Collection (17th century) and several additional masterpieces.
Via della Pilotta 17
Open Saturdays 9a-1:15p; Private tours available upon request
€12 Galleria Colonna (tour in English available at 11:45a, included with the entrance fee); €25 Galleria Colonna + Princess Isabella Apartment.
Terrace above the Secret Garden open March until the end of October
Transportation: Bus 40 or 64