Saint Lawrence’ Charterhouse, well-known as Padula Charterhouse (in Italian Certosa di Padula) is one of Italian and European most important monastic complexes; it’s an unquestionably artistic and prestigious monument. It’s located in Padula (Salerno) within Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park and extends on 52.000 square meters, 30.000 of which are indoor, with more 320 rooms. In the 1998 it was proclaimed by UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Padula Charterhouse was founded in 1306 by Tommaso Sanseverino, Count of Marsico and owner of Vallo di Diano,  who in 1296  took possession of Padula and in 1306 he donated to the Carthusians an earlier building, the Grangia of St. Lawrence of the Abbot of Montevergine, on which  ruins was built the original nucleus of the monastery, which has grown up over centuries with buildings that reflect the styles of the different periods.  Sanseverino hoped that the work of the Carthusians could help clean up the land became marshy for the floods of the river Tanagro. During the Napoleonic age, religious orders were suppressed and the  Padula Charthause was stripped of its patrimony of books, archival and its golden and silver treasures. After the French domination, the Carthusians were able to return to the monastery, but there was a progressive decline that led to the suppression of the monastery in 1866. In 1882 the Charterhouse was proclaimed national monument under the care of the Ministry of Public Education. The Charterhouse, today, hosts the Museo Archeologico della Lucania Occidentale and a vast contemporary art collection in the apartment of the Prior. The planimetric plan, the distribution and organization of the architectonic spaces, reflects the religious life lead by the Carthusian order. In fact, it is divided into two big areas: the “casa bassa” (“short house”) in contact with the external world, where the sustenance activities of the Carthusian community were carried out (grocer’s shops, stables, granaries and storehouses located in the external courtyard) and the “casa alta” (“high house“), containing all the spaces reserved for the monk community (church, kitchen, refectory, treasure and chapter house) and the halls to live in isolation, organized around the big cloister (monks’ cells and gardens, the prior’s apartment, library). Major art attractions are: the Mannerist facade, the ligneous choirs of  XVI, the majolica pavement of 1700, the marble altar of the eighteenth inlaid with madreperla  and lapislazuli, liturgical furniture and especially the big elliptical staircase by Gaetano Barba, a follower of Vanvitelli.

 

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