The Charterhouse and Michelangelo's Cloister
In 1561, Pope Pius IV granted the remains of the Bath-houses of Diocletian to the Carthusian monks, appointing them as conservators of the ruins.
The work aimed at the transformation of the complex into a Charterhouse began soon after, and it was presumably Michelangelo who outlined the general structure of the monastic ensemble (although the design of the Charterhouse and the details are generally ascribed to Jacopo del Duca).
Subsequently to the act of donation of Pope Clement VIII in 1595, construction began of a new convent which was built according to the canonical scheme of the Order: a large cloister, a small cloister and the small dwellings (houses) for the monks.
The large cloister, known as Michelangelo's, was inserted between the the central body of the Baths and the northern side of its enclosure
The small cloister was obtained to the right of the chancel from the new church, in the place of the ancient natatio; the cells, however, were arranged on the western side, far from the exterior wall and along the perimeter of the cloister.
The Cloister is commonly known as Michelangelo's Cloister, due to the widespread idea that the artist built it along with the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs; indeed, it is more likely that he made the preparatory drawings but only participated in the initial stages of the construction, as his death occurred in 1564.
With its 10,000 square metres and its wings of 100 metres, each rhythmically punctuated by 100 monolithic columns, the Cloister of Michelangelo is one of the largest in Italy; along the wings, originally conceived as covered walkways of the Charterhouse, are on display, as part of the permanent collection, sculptures, sarcophagi, altars as well as bases of statues of the Imperial age.