Naples Charterhouse of San Martino
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
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Castel_Sant%27_Elmo_e_Certosa_di_San_Martino_da_piazza_del_Plebiscito.jpg
Interior of the church by Cosimo Fanzago.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Napoli_s_Martino_chiesa_1040974.JPG
Adorazione dei Pastori by Guido Reni, circa 1635, Museum of San Martino.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Guido_Reni_001.jpg
The main altar by Nicola Tagliacozzi Canale (1680-1764).
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Sammartino.jpg
Details of the vault in the church.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Particolare_Certosa_San_Martino_napoli.jpg