Built starting in 1135 thanks to the will of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, it was consecrated in 1221. The architectural structure of the monastic buildings has developed according to the Cistercian rules and boasts a tower, known as "the ciribiciaccola". Inside, the fourteenth-century frescoes are admirable, while the clock tower, some parts of the choir and the remaking of the apsidal chapels date back to the 17th and 17th centuries.
Monastero di Chiaravalle History
The first buildings built by the religious were provisional, and only between 1150 and 1160 the construction of the current church was begun, which then lasted for about seventy years, until 1221; of the original one of 1135 no trace remains today. From 1443 to 1465 the abbey was given in Commenda and, thereafter, the Tuscan Brothers settled there, under pressure from the Commendatore Giulio de 'Medici (future Clement VII).
The Cistercians returned in 1474 and in 1497 the abbey entered the Italian Congregation of San Bernardo, becoming its abbot as its president. It was suppressed May 13, 1798 and only in 1952, thanks to the intervention of Cardinal Schuster, then archbishop of Milan, the Cistercians could return to Chiaravalle and today the church is a parish.
The essential lines of the exterior are reflected in the solemnity of the interior spaces, marked by a style that is no longer Romanesque, but not yet Gothic. Initially the only decorative motif allowed were the columns with Corinthian capitals.
The church's true masterpiece, however, is the walnut choir with extraordinary bas-reliefs that narrate the life of Saint Bernard, carved in 1645 by the will of Carlo Garavaglia. Among the monastic environments it is worth mentioning the cloister, a quadriportico with magnificent carved capitals: a place of art, therefore, but also the ideal angle to savor the religious quiet that characterized the life of the monks and still today distinguishes the most famous among the Milanese abbeys.