Pavia Charterhouse

Pavia Charterhouse
Pavia Charterhouse

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, an evolution took place in Italy in which Gothic forms were gradually transformed into others of Renaissance influence, the pointed and sumptuous architecture of the last Gothic gave way to simple and more rational, inspired by classical antiquity. However, this transformation was not sudden and for some time both styles coexisted simultaneously. In this context we can point out how in some constructions an evolution from one style to another can be seen, for example the Charterhouse of Pavia is one of the most representative buildings of this transition.


La Cartuja is located on the outskirts of the city of Pavia and is currently considered one of the best works of late Gothic in Italy. Construction work began at the end of the 14th century, around the year 1396, as reported in the inscription on the main façade, thanks to the intercession of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. In reality, Visconti's intervention was fundamental since he not only sponsored the work but also ceded some of his land for the construction of the charterhouse and welcomed the monks who were to inhabit the new building until its dependencies were completely finished.

The church was not only conceived as a convent temple but also as a large family mausoleum for the Visconti. The temple holdsa Latin cross planata structure with a central nave flanked by two lateral naves (something quite unusual in the buildings of the Carthusian order). Due to the influence of Gothic architecture and especially the Duomo of Milan, the building has a wide transept or transverse nave with chapels that continue through the chancel, the chapels of the transept being quadrangular and those of the chancel of the temple semicircular.

Around the year 1465, when only the central nave of the temple was built, the new Renaissance aesthetics prevailed in the Charterhouse of Pavia, since then the work acquired Renaissance overtones due to the innovative designs by Guiniforte Solari first and later by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo.

But the Cartuja is important not only for its architecture but also for the sculptural and pictorial decoration of the whole: the work that was originally planned with a much more modest decoration is today one of the best works of Lombard architecture, completely covered by reliefs, free-standing sculptures and rich ornamentation; In addition, the temple presents some of the most exquisite sculptural ensembles with different textures and complicated light effects.

On the main façade we find architectural elements inspired by the works of Brunelleschi such as the paired columns that support an entablature to thus increase the height of the construction and that Brunelleschi himself had already used in works such as the Church of San Lorenzo. Also in thetemple we can observe important pictorial cycles such as the one made by Perugino or the works of Daniele de Crespi.

Popular topic