Naples Charterhouse of San Martino
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Naples Charterhouse of San Martino

The famous Carthusian Monastery atop the Vomero Hill houses a prestigious museum presenting works of art of many centuries.

In 1325, Charles, Duke of Calabria and son of Robert d'Anjou began the construction of one of Naples richest buildings atop the Vomero Hill. From the XVIth to the XVIIIth centuries, the greatest artists from all over Europe worked at the Certosa di San Martino, the famous Charterhouse. The reconstructions made in the Mannerism and Baroque periods gradually modified the initial physionomy of the edifice. The most important expansion and decorating works were made by architects Giovanni Antonio Dosio at the end of the XVth century and Cozimo Fanzago as from 1623. The XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries also brought huge changes. The French deconsacrated the Carthusian monastery in 1806, under Napoleon I. Since 1866, it houses the prestigious Museum of San Martino for Art and History of Naples.

At first, the Carthusian monks designed San Martino as a conservatory of Neapolitan history and civilization. The collections illustrate the variety of arts in the city from the XVth to the XIXth centuries. Outstanding paintings, jewels in coral and traditional presepi, the famous Neapolitan Nativity scenes, fine china, engravings and sculptures in ivory are displayed. The church, Prior's Residence (Quarto del Priore), cloisters and gardens are remarkable.  At the end of the XIVth century, the Prior Severo Turboli created an ambitious plan for the altering of the San Martino Charterhouse. The original Angevin church was enlarged and modernized. Its Gothic structure almost  totally disappeared under the  abundant decoration of frescoes, stuccoes and marbles by the greatest artists of the time. Cosimo Fanzago, an architect and a sculptor, realized the most important modifications. He worked at San Martino from 1623 to 1656. He is the artist of the church so rich decoration. Polychromic marbles adorn the nave and chapels such as the Capella di San Bruno. The rooms adjacent to the church are also magnificent. In the sacristy, the XVIth century inlaid cabinets present fifty six landscapes scenes with sublime effects of perspective. The Triumph of Judith painted on the vault of the Chapel of the Treasure was painted by Luco Giordano in 1704.

The Prior was the only person authorized to maintain relations with the outside world. He ruled the life of the monastery from his apartments. His fabulous residence filled with artistic treasures, overlooked luxuriant gardens with a panoramic view over Naples and the Bay. It was built in the XVIIth century and enlarged during the next century. The collection of paintings, works of art, precious furniture, today presented in the museum, are an indication of the Carthusian monks refinement of luxury and great artistic sensibility. It also shows their capability of  following the evolution of the very last trends in art and architecture.

Charterhouse of San Martino and Castel of Sant-Elmo, Naples

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Interior of the church by Cosimo Fanzago.

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Adorazione dei Pastori by Guido Reni, circa 1635, Museum of San Martino.

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The main altar by Nicola Tagliacozzi Canale (1680-1764). 

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Details of the vault in the church.

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Comments (9)

Wow! What a beautiful place! Gigantic pics, but beautiful :)

Beautiful images, yeah they are quite big.

Ranked #8 in Italy

This was a sensational piece, Francois. If Baroque architecture was listed as a category, you would be the Number 1 expect.

beautiful just beautiful

Ranked #1 in Italy

Beautiful place; Italy is so wonderful

Magnificent. Another place of beauty.

Those were elaborate paintings and sculptures my friend.

Ranked #3 in Italy

Thank you for your nice comments my friends.

Extremely beautiful Francois; pictures are big, but suffice it to say, they are worth the space!