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A cloister (from Latin claustrum) is a covered walk with an open colonnade on one side, running along the walls of buildings that face a quadrangle or garth. The attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church usually indicates that it is (or was once) part of a monastic foundation.

Cloistered (or "claustral") life is also another name for the life of a monk or nun in the enclosed religious orders; the modern English term enclosure is used in contemporary Catholic church law The Code of Canon Law, Canon 667 ff. English translation copyright 1983 The Canon Law Society Trust [43820] to mean cloistered, and cloister is sometimes used as a synonym for monastery.

In medieval times, cloisters served the primary function of quiet meditation or study gardens. The hortus conclusus or "enclosed garden" of medieval times featured the essential well at the center, from which four paths divided the space into quadrants.

The largest cloister in the world ( ) is at the Certosa di Padulamarker near Salernomarker in southern Italy.

See also



A cloister can also be a large container used to house large amounts of liquid.

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