Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Main Cloister

The Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a cloistered convent in Arequipa, originally built in the 16th century. The founder of the monastery was a rich widow; The tradition of the time indicated that the second son or daughter of a family would enter religious service, and the convent accepted only women from high-class Spanish families. Each nun at Santa Catalina had between one and four servants or slaves, and the nuns invited musicians to perform in the convent, gave parties and generally lived a lavish lifestyle. Each family paid a dowry at their daughter’s entrance to the convent, and the dowry paid to gain the highest status was 2,400 silver coins (equivalent to around $50,000 today).

Calle Sevilla

Later, in 1871, a strict Dominican nun was sent by Pope Pius IX to reform the monastery. She sent the rich dowries back to Europe, and freed all the servants and slaves, giving them the choice of remaining as nuns or leaving. In the 1960s, it was struck twice by earthquakes, severely damaging the structures, and forcing the nuns to build new accommodation next door. It was then restored before finally being opened to the public in 1969.

Blue and Red

We had intentionally arrived late in the afternoon so that we could have a chance to also visit the monestary for the one night per week that it is open to the public in the night time. However, after paying a fairly expensive price to enter so late in the day, they failed to inform us that that particular night was a special event and therefore it was not possible to visit the monestary during the night… So, our visit was cut unexpectedly short, and it was particularly disappointing since I had been planning for weeks to make some night photography there. Still, we did manage to get a few good photos there, as the architcture and alleyways are very beautiful. I wish we would have had a little more time, and for sure a few hours at night, and I think we could have come away with some even more pleasing photos.

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One Comment on "Monasterio de Santa Catalina"

  1. John
    08/04/2011 at 18:50 Permalink

    Beautiful, would love to visit this place.

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