The Certosa di Pavia is the main tourist attraction of the city of Pavia, located about 35 kilometers south of Milan. It is a huge religious complex about 8 kilometers north of the city itself. The monastery is among the most famous Renaissance buildings in Italy. It can be easily reached by bus both from Pavia itself and from Milan.
Certosa di Pavia
Address: Viale del Monumento, 4 – 27012 Pavia. Telephone: +39 0382925613. Opening hours October to April: From 09.00 to 11.30 and from 14.30 to 17.30 (Sunday until 17.00); May to September: From 09.00 to 11.30 and from 14.30 to 18.00. Closed: Monday. Admission: Free of charge. There are buses from Pavia central station and from Milan (Viale Bligny/Famagosta).
The Certosa di Pavia is the result of a promise Caterina Visconti made to the Madonna. The wife of Duke Gian Galeazza Visconti had vowed that, if she gave birth to a son, she would give it (and all subsequent sons) the name Maria. She would also have a Certosa (“Carthusian Monastery”) built.
The son was born and the monastery complex was built in the park belonging to the city’s castle. The monastery would eventually also become a mausoleum for the Visconti family.
Work on the complex lasted for years and continued even after the Sforza took over.
The facade was built between the 15th and 16th centuries, in a style somewhat reminiscent of Bramante.
Upon entering a large courtyard, the Palazzo Ducale is on the right. This palace was built in 1625 and houses multiple works of art, including the tomb of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d’Este. The latter was designed by Cristoforo Solari, whose nickname was the “bully” (il gobbo). Also on display are paintings by Perugino, Daniele Crespi and Ambrogio da Fossano (or il Bergognone), and others.
The architect of the Palazzo Ducale was Francesco Maria Richini, who was also responsible for the Palazzo di Brera in Milan. The designer of the interior was Giovanni Maria della Rovere, nicknamed Fiamminghino (“little Flemish man”).
The latter also painted the vaults, chapels and transept of the church. This happened towards the end of the 15th century and he had help from his brother Bernardino and from Giacomo de’ Mottis. The trompe l’oeil painting to the left of the entrance shows a monk who seems to be ogling at a door.
The funerary monument of Gian Galeazzo Visconti is located in the right-hand nave. The aedicula is richly decorated with paintings depicting events in the duke’s life. The artist was Gian Cristoforo Romano.