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Grande Chartreuse

Coordinates: 45°21′48″N 5°47′37″E / 45.36333°N 5.79361°E / 45.36333; 5.79361
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Grande Chartreuse

Grande Chartreuse (French: [ɡʁɑ̃d ʃaʁtʁøz]) is the head monastery of the Carthusian religious order. It is located in the Chartreuse Mountains, north of the city of Grenoble, in the commune of Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse (Isère), France.


The monks being forced out of the monastery in April 1903

Originally, the château belonged to the See of Grenoble. In 1084, Saint Hugh gave it to hermit Saint Bruno and his followers who founded the Carthusian Order.

The recipe of the alcoholic beverage Chartreuse is said to have been given to the monks of Grande Chartreuse in 1605[1] by the French Marshal François Annibal d'Estrées. For over a century, the monks worked on perfecting the 130-ingredient recipe. In 1764, the monks expanded their distillery for the first time to meet the demand of their popular Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse.[2] The distillery has then been moved several times in more remote areas because it represents a major explosion hazard for the surrounding habitations.[1]

The château went through many severe casualties, reconstructions and renovations. The current building was erected in 1688.[3] In 1790, following the French Revolution, the monks were expelled from the monastery, and waited until 1838 to be reauthorized on the premises.[2]

The massive collection of 400 manuscripts and 3,500 printed documents (including 300 incunabula) taken from the Grande Chartreuse during the French Revolution is curated and protected in the bibliothèque d’étude et du patrimoine of Grenoble, and an online scanned version of the documents is available on the digital platform of the library, Pagella, for researchers and interested people alike.[4]

Following the establishment of the Association Law of 1901 and its interpretation that effectively banned religious associations en masse, many notable religious institutions across France, including the Grande Chartreuse, were closed by the French government.[5] While some monks found refuge in Italy until 1929,[6] others settled in the Tarragona region of Spain and relaunched the monastery's famous liqueur-producing activity. The Grande Chartreuse was sold in 1927 to a group of local entrepreneurs who invited the monks back to their monastery.[2]

In 1940, the Grande Chartreuse was reopened under the Petain regime.[7] At the end of World War II, the Grande Chartreuse was used as a hospital by the Allied Forces.


Grande Chartreuse is situated in a remote mountain valley.

Visitors are not permitted at the Grande Chartreuse, and motor vehicles are prohibited on the surrounding roads.

A museum of the Carthusian order and the lives of its monks and nuns is located about two kilometers away. The order is supported by the sales of Chartreuse liqueur which has been popular in France and later around the world since the early 18th century. In 2015, the order sold 1.5 million bottles of Chartreuse (50 euros a bottle), and all the proceedings went into financing the order and its charity projects.[1]

In popular culture[edit]


The Italian canon Antonio de Beatis described the former monastery in his 1517-1518 travel journal; he wrote that the original monastery was destroyed in an avalanche long before, killing many of the monks.[8] English poet Matthew Arnold wrote one of his finest poems, "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse", while briefly staying at the monastery around 1850.[9] The Grande Chartreuse was also described by William Wordsworth in his 1792 Descriptive Sketches (lines 53-73), and in the 1850 revision of The Prelude, Book VI (lines 416-18), (Wordsworth visited the monastery in 1790, but he describes the 1792 expulsion of the monks by French forces); and John Ruskin's Praeterita. Alice Muriel Willamson, in her 1905 travel romance novel "The Princess Passes" chapter 28, had her characters visit the recently abandoned monastery, seeing and describing the cells, gardens, and kitchen ware still in place, and described the empty place as a body without a soul.[10]


Into Great Silence, a documentary by Philip Gröning on the monastery, was released in 2005.

List of priors[edit]

The following prior are listed in the Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie Ecclésiastique:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kait Bolongaro (27 October 2016). "An uncanny mixture: God, alcohol and even cannabis". BBC.
  2. ^ a b c A monks love of Chartreuse, Drinkingcup.net
  3. ^ Kissell, Joe (29 October 2018). "The Grande Chartreuse". Interesting Thing of the Day. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  4. ^ "accueil fr | Pagella". pagella.bm-grenoble.fr. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  5. ^ "La Grande Chartreuse". Catholic Encyclopedia. The monastery, with a small portion of the surrounding pastures, was rented from the State until the last monks were expelled by two squadrons of dragoons on the 19th of April, 1903.
  6. ^ "La Grande Chartreuse". Immaculate Heart of Mary's Hermitage. The monks of La Grande Chartreuse, driven into exile with the prior general, found refuge at Farneta, in Italy, until 1929, when Montrieux, the first of the French charterhouses to be restored, was reopened.
  7. ^ "Church & Democracy". Time. 19 August 1940. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2002. Meanwhile the Holy See's endorsement of the Petain regimePetain regime in France brought it minor benefits, such as the Carthusians' return to their Alpine eyrie, the Grande Chartreuse.
  8. ^ Antonio De Beatis, The Travel Journal of Antonio De Beatis 1517-1518. Translated by J. R. Hale (Ed.) and J. M. A. Lindon. Hakluyt Society (1979)
  9. ^ "Representative Poetry Online". Representative Poetry Online. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  10. ^ Williamson, A. M. (Alice Muriel); Williamson, C. N. (Charles Norris). "The Princess Passes". www.gutenberg.org. Retrieved 19 February 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Grande-Chartreuse monastery at Wikimedia Commons

45°21′48″N 5°47′37″E / 45.36333°N 5.79361°E / 45.36333; 5.79361