The Certosa di Padula or Certosa di San Lorenzo, (Saint Lawrence, the saint after whom it is named) is a Carthusian monastery or charter house, located in Padula, a small town in the Parco del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni National Park, in the region of Campania - Southern Italy. The monastery was founded on April 27, 1306 by Tommaso di San Severino, of the noble house of San Severino. Supposedly, the floor plan layout of the charter house is modeled after the geometry of the forged iron griddle used to burn Saint Lawrence alive. This absolutely majestic monastery is the largest in Italy, with a footprint covering 12.7 acres. It houses 320 rooms and halls. Eighty-four columns grace its three acre cloister expanse, making it the largest cloister in the world.
Its building history spans 450 years, but the principal parts of the buildings are from the Baroque period. The Certosa di Padula is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the archaeological museum of western Lucania, housing a collection of artifacts from the excavations of the nearby necropolises of Sala Consilina and Padula, dating from protohistory to the Hellenistic Age.
Over the centuries it has also been a location used by warring armies; the French made it their headquarters during the Napoleonic War’s occupation and stripped it of its wealth; it was Garibaldi’s Southern Army’s base during the unification of Italy; and most recently it served as an internment camp for prisoners in both World Wars.