Located in the center of Arequipa, Santa Catalina is the pride of its townspeople, covering an area of more than 29,426 square meters. It is a masterpiece of colonial architecture, and houses some of the finest examples of Spanish American religious art.
Founded in 1580 under the rule of Viceroy Toledo, the Private Monastery of Nuns of the Order of Santa Catalina of Sena was opened to the world nearly 400 years later, in 1970. Since then, visitors have been able to stroll through the streets and cloisters that during colonial times were the refuge of female nobility who had decided to shut themselves away from the world and dedicate themselves entirely to prayer.
Possibly because of their aristocratic background and the wealth of their families, the convent was decorated with valuable works painted by the Quito and Cuzco Schools, including many others signed by grand masters from Italy and Spain, while special attention was paid to the finishings of the buildings.
The main square, whose gates still preserve the magic of their fine finishings and images carved from wood, features a fountain brought from Spain and crafted entirely from granite. The ochre and blue colors of its streets and patios -named after Spanish cities- are decorated with bright flowers such as scarlet geraniums.
Today, it takes around an hour to tour Santa Catalina, an hour to discover centuries of tradition.