The Certosa di Pavia is a monumental complex located in the municipality from which it takes its name. A Renaissance jewel linked to Pavia by a centuries-old history.
Its construction was strongly desired by Gian Galeazzo Visconti who wanted to use it as a family chapel, connected to the castle through the Visconti Park.
Construction began in 1396, when it was Visconti himself who laid the first stone to begin the work that would give rise to this place of art, culture and spirituality, now owned by the Italian State.
History and construction of Certosa di Pavia
The Certosa di Pavia is a historic monumental complex that includes a monastery and a sanctuary.
Its construction lasted about 50 years and saw the participation of leading architects and artists of the time including Bernardo da Venezia, who originally designed the Certosa but also Giovanni solari, Cristoforo Lombardo and others.
At the beginning it was entrusted to the Carthusian community, then to the Cistercian one and, later but only for a short time, to the Benedictine one.
On July 7, 1866, after the unification of the Kingdom of Italy, the Charterhouse of Pavia was declared a national monument and became part of the Italian state property along with all the goods and works of art that contained within it.
Since the late sixties of the twentieth century, it houses a Cistercian monastic community while some of its buildings have become locations for others, for example, the museum of the Certosa di Pavia and the local station of the Carabinieri.
Consecrating power through art: the real reason why the Certosa di Pavia was built
In addition to the romantic purpose, that is to say the alleged vow made to his wife Catherine at the point of death, it is believed that the 3 Certosa di Pavia was also wanted by Visconti for another, fundamental reason.
In fact, the Duke wanted to consolidate his hegemony in the area of northern Italy, especially in a historical period that had seen the formation of ruptures within Christianity.
How do you connect the construction of the monastery with its purpose? The count had an intuition that, through a grandiose work of art, he could enrich his authority with charm as well as show his magnificence with a splendid construction.
Moreover, by entrusting it to a monastic order, he would have had the guarantee that the construction and completion works would be carried out until their complete conclusion.
Therefore, in addition to welcoming his family members once deceased, the Certosa di Pavia had the goal of consecrating the power of his family in the same way that, In the past, the Duke’s father had scattered works of great importance such as the Visconti castle and the University of Pavia.
The primacy of the Certosa di Pavia
The Certosa di Pavia was the first church of its time to have such dimensions as well as a three-nave structure that had never been used by the Carthusian order.
The nave was designed with the strong imprint of the Gothic style and its construction ended in 1465.
However, in the meantime the influence of the Renaissance in Italy became increasingly strong, which is why the rest of the church and the cloisters were designed from the beginning by Guiniforte Solari, at the head of the works between 1453 and 1481.
To Solari followed Antonio Amedeo, responsible for the construction of the Certosa di Pavia from 1481 to 1499.
The church of the Certosa was consecrated on 3 May 1497 while the lower part of the facade was completed in 1507.
Visit Certosa di Pavia
The Certosa is famous for the charm of its landscape that changes with the changing of the seasons so visiting it will be an exciting experience at any time of the year.
The tickets to visit it cost 10 euros for adults and a reduced price to 5 euros for some categories of people such as children: to get the price reduction or free entry intended for some specific cases, we advise you to contact the property directly.
Visiting hours vary according to the period: from November to February it is from 9 am to 11.30 am and from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm. Inside, at the herbal shop of the Certosa, you can buy honey, chocolate, candy and the famous bitter Nocino produced by the Cistercian monks.