Santa Catalina Convent

Attractions & Activities In Arequipa & Colca Canyon

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At over 215,278 square feet, the Santa Catalina convent complex resembles a little village of its own, cut off from the city of Arequipa by its own walls. It was constructed in 1579 and was subject to several expansions over the next century, funded by the requisite dowries of incoming nuns – most of whom were from wealthy Spanish stock. The convent is still active, with around 20 nuns living in the cloistered northern area, though the majority of the complex is now open to the public.

Snoop around the convent complex and you’ll stumble upon lots of interesting architectural edifices and decorative detailing. Of particular note is the white church, constructed from sillar, a white volcanic rock used in many of Arequipa’s buildings, and the ornate tiles of the Orange Cloister, named after the orange trees at its center. Though the convent is Catholic, much of the architectural features here bear distinctly Moorish influences.

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