Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa was built at the turn of the XVI-XVII centuries on the ruins of an ancient Inca girl’s monastery, destroyed by the largest volcanic eruption in the history of the South Of America .
Myths and Facts
At the time of the Incas, Aklavasi was here - the “House of the Maidens of the Sun” or “The House of the Chosen Girl” - one of the most important sacred buildings on the main square of the city. It was something like the monastery of noble maidens selected among the most beautiful and most virtuous girls of noble origin from the whole empire. The virgins dedicated their lives to the service of the sun god and were considered his wives. In the monastery, they weaved clothes for ceremonies and prepared sacred bread and corn beer.
In 1600, the eruption of the Wainaputin volcano (the strongest in South America) destroyed the city of Arequipa. In 1601, the Spaniards founded the Santa Catalina Monastery (in honor of St. Catherine Siena) on the ruins of Aklavasi. Once there lived more than 400 nuns. Today, only a small community occupies several buildings of a huge complex, but most of the monastery since 1975 has been the state museum of colonial religious art and is open to tourists.
What to see
Santa Catalina is one of the most beautiful examples of colonial Monastery in Peru , the walls and arches of which are fully decorated with murals and frescoes in the Baroque style. Inside the temple is a collection of 17th-century paintings depicting St. Catherine, the Assumption of the Virgin and other biblical scenes. At the altar of the gilded cedar stands the statue of the "Holy Heart of Jesus Christ".
The Santa Catalina Museum exhibit includes some of Cusco's greatest works of Indian art, combining indigenous and Spanish styles, as well as ritual clothes and carpets embroidered with gold and silver needles.
After a tour of the monastery, you can buy mazapanes (pastries) and creams prepared by the nuns of Santa Catalina.
Do not forget to see the mainCathedral in Arequipa, which is considered one of the most unusual cathedrals of the Spanish conquest. But the most famous sights of Peru, it is certainly the Inca fortressMachu PicchuandSacsayhuamanlocated near the city of Cuzco. In the city itself, the most popular among touristscusco cathedraland JesuitTemple of Company.
Santa Catalina Monastery is open from Tuesday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on other days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Boleto Turistico (a comprehensive ticket for visiting 16 attractions of Peru, costing $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for students and children, valid for 10 days).
Official site:www.santacatalina.org.pe(English, Spanish)