The Palazzo Colonna Barberini is the most famous building of Palestrina and the seat of the city’s Archaeological Museum. The palace was constructed in the 12th century, on top of an ancient Roman temple. There are contributions by both Bernini and Borromini.
Palazzo Colonna Barberini Palestrina
Address: Via Barberini, 22 – 00036 Palestrina. Phone: +39 06 9538100. Opening times: From 09:00 till 20:00. Closed: December 25, january 1. Ticket price: 5 Euros; ages 18-25: 2,50 Euros; minors: Free. (Note that prices and times may be subject to change.)
The museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
History and description
The first nucleus of the building was constructed by the Colonna family. It was built on top of the upper part of the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia.
In 1298, troops of Pope Boniface VIII attacked and destroyed Palestrina. In 1437, troops of Pope Euegenio IV did the same. Both times, the palace was severely damaged.
In 1630, the Colonna sold the fief to the Barberini.
The building occupies the space formerly taken up by the hemicycle topping the cavea. This explains the concave facade. The former cavea is now the staircase leading up to the palace. The ground floor occupies the space of the former cryptoportico.
During World War II, the Palazzo Colonna Barberini was used as a shelter for families whose had been destroyed during air raids.
The Barberini opened the archaeologial museum in 1913, and modestly called it Museo Barberiniano. The family had already moved out of the building in the 19th century.
The city bought one part of the building, including the archaeological collection, in 1953.
The collection features mostly Roman and Etruscan objects such as urns. The biggest attraction, however, is a mosaic depicting the flooding of the Nile River, as well as hunting scenes, ibises and Roman warriors.
Also on display are paintings by both Italian (Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Perugino, Caravaggio, Raphael, to name a few) and Dutch and Flemish masters. The ceiling paintings in the Gran Salone were the work of by Pietro da Cortona.
The Barberini family still owns the entire west wing of the palace.
Palazzo Colonna Barberini, Palestrina