Certosa di Pavia

23 Nov 2014 (Sunday)

It was a gloomy day and we set on to visit Certose di Pavia in the afternoon as it opened at 14.30.  The opening time was only two hours.  Or you can start the visit at 9am.  We took the train from Milano.  The Certose appeared right in front of us.  The walk outside the wall lasted about 20 minutes.  

Certose di Pavia is a one of the largest monasteries in Italy. It was built by order of Gian Galeazzo Visconti as the funeral chapel of the family.  The construction started in 1396 and ended 1452.  The church and the facade were built in 1473 and 16th century respectively. Certose in Italian means a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians .  They were known for their seclusion and asceticism and plainness of their architecture.  But the Certosa is famous for the exuberance.

The white marble facade infused with mottled pink and green is stunningly beautiful.  Sculpture and reliefs dotted the facade intricately, complicated but still in harmony. They can be independent saints, patriarchs, prophets, stories from the bible or episodes at time.


The guided tour began.  A priest (not Italian) spoke primarily Italian with some English.

The interior of the Certose is astonishingly gorgeous. The central nave is structured with intricate geometries. Golden stars are shining on the blue ceiling. Paintings by famous painter are on or over the altar. A tomb of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d'Este lies on one spot of the church. In general, photos are not allowed.  The control was selective.  We saw people putting up their giant tablets for photo shooting at every corner.  The priest did not stop them.  However, we could only take a few photos.

The small hall leading to the courtyard has a beautiful ceiling. Outside is a small garden in the center.  

Terra cotta decoration of the small pilasters sit nicely in the environment in a charming way.  One scene is Jesus with the woman of Samaria at the well.


Then we saw the monk's cell.  The priest explained that Certose is a form of small houses / cells as a part of the monastery.  Each monk had a house, a garden for vegetables, a well and necessities.  Most of the time they were praying.  It is luxurious to have the plot of land though not owning it.


The guided tour ended.  We proceeded to the museum to see replica of the reliefs on the facade.  Quality is high.  I like particularly the different angels.

If we put the genuine and copy together, those on the facades are more nicely crafted and beautiful. The bluish grey are reliefs on the facade whilst the brownish ones are copies in the museum.  See the difference?

Time is running quick.  Goodbye, incredible Certose di Pavia!