The Certosa di San Martino Monastery is located in the Vomero district of Naples and stands right next to the Castel Sant’Elmo. It has been increasingly embellished over the centuries with works of art by mostly local artists. Since the end of the 19th century it is the seat of the Museo Nazionale di San Martino.
Certosa di San Martino Museum Naples
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
The address of the Certosa di Martino Museum is Largo San Martino 5 – Naples. Telephone; +39 020848800288. Admission price: 6 Euro (discount: 3 Euro). Opening hours: From Thursday to Tuesday from 08:30 to 18:30. Not all parts of the museum are always open. If you are interested in a particular section, please call in advance.
History Certosa di San Martino Naples
The Certosa di San Martino was commissioned by Charles of Anjou in 1325. It was built for the monastic order of Carthusians. The main reconstruction took place in the 16th century, under the architect Giovanni Antonio Dosio. A century later Cosimo Fanzago gave the buidling a Baroque facelift.
The church and adjacent rooms are characterized by paintings and frescoes by a number of 17th century artists from Naples itself.
Certosa di San Martino Church
The frescoes in the pronaos painted by Micco Spadaro (whose real name was Domenico Gargiulo) have the persecution of the Carthusians as their theme. The seated figures depicted appear to have their legs dangling over a non-existent edge.
The sacristy is decorated with detailed wooden inlay work from the 16th century.
Painters whose works can be seen in the church include Francesco Solimena, Massimo Stanzione, Giuseppe de Ribera, Luca Giordano and Battista Caracciolo.
The Chiostro dei Procuratori is right next to the church. A long corridor on the left leads to the Chiostro Grande. This was designed by Giovanni Antonio Dosio towards the end of the 16th century. The garden framed by a portico is full of marble statues. On the balustrade are skulls, which were meant to remind the monks of their own mortality (similar to the Capuchin Crypt in Rome). Fanzago was to further embellish this monastic courtyard later.
The Sezione Navale (“Maritime Section”) consists of two exhibition halls dedicated to the Bourbons’ naval power from 1734 to 1860. The collection consists of scale models of 18th and 19th century warships. There is also weaponry from the era on display. The highlights, however, are the royal ships, including a beautifully carved gift from the Turkish Sultan Selim III to Ferdinand IV.
The Sezione Presepiale features the most famous Neapolitan presepe, the Cucinella, with hundreds of figures made of all kinds of materials, from cork and wood to papier-mâché. Not all nativity scenes are the same size: There is also a presepe in a painted eggshell on display.
Quarto del Priore
The museum’s collection of paintings is located in the so-called Quarto del Priore. Here one can see, among other things, the “Madonna and Child and San Giovannino” by Pietro Bernini.
Images and Memories of Naples
The Immagini e Memorie di Napoli section is more interesting than its postcard-like name would suggest. There are portraits of historical figures and events in the history of Naples, as well as antique maps. One highlight is a 35-panel copper map. Another one is the famous Tavola Strozzi, a panel depicting the city’s 15th century naval forces.