The style of the Carthusian life, that is a solitary lifestyle tempered by community, is reflected from what
can be seen on the outside, in terms of the buildings. You will consequently find all Charterhouses to have three main parts:
a grouping of hermitages (or "cells") linked together by a cloister (the big cloister).
You sometimes find a second cloister for the monks (San Jose, Trinita)
communal areas: the church, the refectory and the chapter
the work area (kitchen, laundry room...) and workshops (metal shop, mill...)
Typical Charterhouse layout consist of the following:
- Main Cloister :
- The Main Cloister connects all the cells where the Fathers lead their solitary lifestyle.
- Communal Areas :
- This is primarily the church, the chapter, and the refectory.
- In this area of the monastery one can also find certain work areas: kitchen , laundry room, etc...
- Workshops :
- The noisier workshops (farm, metal shop, mill, etc...) are found at some distance of the monastery as to not disturb the
There are the "Major" Charterhouses (like the
Grande Chartreuse, over 30 cells, who construction dates back to the 17th century) and "Lesser" Charterhouses
(like the Chartreuse de Portes, in the French region department of
Ain, which has maintained the aspects of a primitive Charterhouse, with its 12 cells surrounding the cemetery.)
Even though each monastery reflects the architectural style and culture of the country in which it is located, all are
modeled after this basic pattern, which assures each monk the necessary setting for his vocation.