Italian Cistercian Abbeys

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The Cistercian Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba

Chapter House and East Cloister Doorways





The architectural highlights of the abbey are the magnificent window and doorway frames on the east side of the cloisters, which front the chapter house and adjoining rooms and the monks' dormitory staircase.  The original parts of this have been dated to the later 1200s, and it is easy to see Islamic or Mudejar influence in their design (though the locals don't see this!).  Sadly, the chapter house itself does not live up to the promise of its framing. 


The corner columns of the cloister are carved from a single marble block to give the appearance of being four separate columns "knotted" in  the middle ... this design, the origin of which is unknown, appears in various European abbeys and churches - the facade of Lucca Duomo and the Basilica San Michele, also in Lucca, have knotted columns incorporated into their facades.  They can also be found in the church in San Quirico Val d'Orcia, in the cloister of Santa Sophia in Benevento, Southern Italy, and probably several other places.  None that we have so far discovered have the gravitas of those of Chiaravalle della Colomba.

















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