Chiaravalle Abbey

Chiaravalle, Italy

Chiaravalle abbey was founded in 1135 as a daughterhouse of Clairvaux; it is one of the first examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, although maintaining some late Romanesque influences. 

After a series of temporary buildings had been constructed, the construction of the permanent church was begun around 1150–1160; it was consecrated on 2 May 1221. Works continued in the 13th century with the first cloister, south of the church, and, in the 14th century, the crossing tower and the refectory. In 1412 a small chapel was built next to the southern transept. Today it is used as the sacristy.

In 1442 the abbey was placed in commendam. In 1490 Cardinal Ascanio Sforza (the brother of Ludovico il Moro, duke of Milan) commissioned Bramante and Giovanni Antonio Amadeo to construct the Chiostro Grande ('large cloister') and the chapterhouse.

During the Renaissance, numerous painters and artists worked in the abbey: to this period belong for example Bernardino Luini's works. From 1614 to 1616 the brothers Giovanni Battista and Giovanni Mauro della Rovere decorated the interior walls of the church with the frescoes which are still visible today.

When the Napoleonic Cisalpine Republic was founded in 1798, the monastery was partly demolished. What remained included the church, part of the small cloister, the refectory and the entrance buildings. In 1861 Bramante's cloister was destroyed to make way for the construction of the Milan-Pavia-Genoa railway. The abbey remained a private property until 1894, while the Cistercians returned in 1952.

Chiaravalle Abbey is a beautiful temple and well worth seeing, but only for those staying in Milan for over a weekend, otherwise it is too far out to be worthwhile.

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Details

Founded: 1135
Category: Religious sites in Italy

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sweet Alchemy (2 years ago)
Very cool place, I hope the scaffolding on the tower will be removed soon!
Leandro Ekman (2 years ago)
Out of the tourist route. We were the only ones there. You will feel teletransported to another era. If you can go on a day with wind and the sound of the wind and the bell, it's haunting! Search for the abandoned train tracks in the back!!!
Tiziana Tabone (3 years ago)
Always a beautiful, haunting place. The abbey was fouded in 1032 and there are still monks, living the ancient life. The place feels sacred as only ancient places and holy groves can feel.
Judy Choi (4 years ago)
The products they sell are great!
Francesco Maria Bologni (4 years ago)
A gem of peace and history in the outskirts of Milan.
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