Built between 1314 and 1324 by Benedectine workman, the Charterhouse of Paradigna, which inspired Stendhal for his novel “The Charterhouse of Parma”, is a superlative example of Cistercian culture with its square apses, the clear predominance of the central nave over the lateral ones, the polygonal dome shell where the nave crosses the transept, and the square chapels adjoining it. Over the centuries it has undergone many alterations.
The current façade was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The ancient monastery was much tampered with between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The interior has three naves and a cross-vault ceiling, a floor higher than the original one, and leafy stone capitals. In the apse are the remains of some sixteenth-century frescoes, while thos on the vault were painted in 1580 by Cesare Baglione.
Since 2007, the Abbey has been home to the Centre for Communication Studies and Archives (CSAC), a research centre of the University of Parma, dedicated to collecting fine art, photographs, architectural, design and fashion drawings and graphics. The Centre keeps the largest twentieth-century visual and design legacy in Italy, with over 12 million pieces.