Capri Charterhouse of St. Giacomo
The 14th century masterpiece in the heart of Capri.
Count Giacomo Arcucci of Capri, Secretary to Jeanne I of Anjou, found just such a spot enclosed by walls in a small south-facing coastal valley called SAMA or LAMA, located some distance from the town. The Charterhouse's foundations date back to 1371 and it is believed that it was built on the remains of previous Roman buildings and the sixth villa of Tiberius.
In 1553 the Charterhouse suffered extensive damage during the assault of Mustafà Pascià and once again during the raids of the ottoman admiral Dragut. The monks fled and the Charterhouse was subsequently extended and fortified over a period spanning almost a century (1560 to 1636). Work was again resumed in 1691 when the Tower, Greater Cloister and presbytery were restored, and a bell tower with three arches was built between the two cloisters, which was subsequently demolished in 1908.
With the arrival of the French the Charterhouse, became first a barracks, then a jail and finally a military hospital. Between 1901 and 1903 the Charterhouse became the property of the State. That same year, the land which is today the site of the Gardens of Augustus and Via Krupp, was purchased from the State by the German magnate Krupp.
In 1412, the pharmacy was located near the crossroads between the main access road and the Charterhouse road. Opposite on the left, was the Chapel of the Women (not of the order). To the left of the church is the sacristy, which houses two rooms of particular architectural interest. The first occupies the end of the apse and features a brick floor. The second room is covered by a cross-vault decorated with stucco work dating back to the 1600s. The ogival front door of the church is made from white marble and decorated with bas-relief figures of St. Brunone and St. Giacomo (James).
In the lunette, a fresco dating back to the end of the Fourteenth Century depicts the Madonna with the Christ child seated between the two saints. The Lesser Cloister, which dates back to the late Fourteenth Century, features 5 arches along its length and 4 across its width, supported by columns with capitals. Next to the cloister is the Refectory or Diefenbach Room, part of the Fourteenth Century structure.
Today, this is home to a museum holding a number of large statues from the Roman Age which were recovered from the sea floor of the Grotta Azzurra, cave in 1964. It also contains a number of canvases by the German painter Wilhelm Diefenbach, a member of the European symbolist school active at the end of the Nineteenth Century, who lived in Capri for many years. The Charterhouse is also the current site of the Communal Library and has recently undergone further restoration work.
Sites of interest
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