The Abbey of Valserena, better known as Certosa di Paradigna, is a former Cistercian abbey located on the northern outskirts of Parma, in the locality of Paradigna. Known previously as "Certosa di San Martino", it was deconsecrated in the Napoleonic era. Today it belongs to the University of Parma, and is the university headquarters of the Study Center and Archive of Communication.
Certosa di Paradigna History
The name of Certosa is improper, as it never belonged to the Certosini monks. Instead it hosted a community of Cistercian monks from the Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba.
Stendhal's inspiration for his famous novel "La Certosa di Parma", was built between 1314 and 1324 by Benedictine masters at the behest of the cardinal Gerardo Bianchi, represents one of the most qualified examples of Cistercian culture with square apses, with a clear prevailing of the central nave on the sides, the polygonal tiburio at the intersection of the nave with the transept, square chapels attached to the transept itself. Numerous changes have been made over the centuries.
The church, with a Latin cross plan, is in Lombard Gothic style; in the presbytery there are frescoes by Cesare Baglione. The interior has three naves with a cross vault, the pillars are octagonal and hold acute arches. Inside the church there were in the past a valuable high altar, a fresco of Parmigianino on the vault of the presbytery and several other paintings. All works of art were transferred after deconsecration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Parma. The façade has been the subject of a remake dating back to the eighteenth century.
The facade, as we see it today, was built at the beginning of the 18th century. On the left side, again in the 18th century, the windows were modified. Along the right side, on the other hand, you can see the remains of a 15th century building. Even the ancient convent suffered several tampering in the 16th and 18th centuries. Today it is home to the Study and Communication Archive of the University of Parma.