Monasterio D Santa Catalina
Monasterio D Santa Catalina Arequipa Reviews
The Photographer's Dream Site- Monasterio D Santa Catalina Sep 21, 2013
It is the nature of some locations to simply capture my mind and then totally challenge you to find it's soul. I feel then want to express myself via photographs. The challenge usually appears quickly and I get very enthused. My camera gets extra comfortable.
Santa Catalina was such a place. The atmosphere in the monastery challenged me like a drug and the setting was well beyond all of my expectations.
The Monasterio D Santa Catalina, in Arequippa , PERU is a glorious, visual, artistic treat. One could spend days and just scratch the surface of the history and the photographic opportunities. To often we breeze through locastions, like they were passing visions from a bus window.
This location, to me, is a photographer's dream come true. I started taking photos and time became of no consequence. The artistry inherent in the convento overwhelmed me, at every turn.
In 1579, less than 40 years after the Spanish arrived in Arequipa, the the Santa Catalina Convent was founded.
Since its inception women from all walks of life have entered the convent to serve as cloistered nuns, never again returning to their families.
The buildings are constructed from sillar, a white volcanic stone quarried locally, the convent is, in my mind one of the most important and impressive colonial structures in Arequipa, and in fact , that I have ever seen.
The property is huge , a good two blocks long and boasts preserved Native and Spanish architectural styles.
This is a monument of preserved history in its finest form. Without any doubt , this is one of the most impressive living structures I have ever photographed. It is still being used.
Part of the Peru - 2013 travel blog
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It's like walking back in time, walking in the shoes of a nun, and walking around in colonial Peru Dec 04, 2013
The Monasterio de Santa Catalina is the most talked about attraction in all Arequipa travel books so it was only right that this was the first place I'd visit. It warrants about 2 hours. And whilst there are 2 options - a self guided tour as well as one with a guide, I'd highly recommend picking a guide. They're all very knowledgeable, speak fluent English and understand questions when asked. I went with a guide named Celia.
As she walked me through the 3 cloisters, I started off by feeling sorry for the nuns! Celia was explaining the family 'tradition' those days - how the 1st daughter of any family would be happily married, the 2nd would go to a convent, the first son would go to war and the 2nd son takes care of the family. It seemed so, 'unfair'. We walked by the parlour where the nuns would meet their families who came to visit. From here, we went to the first of 3 - the Novice Cluster. This was very airy and roomy.
But the real meat for me was in the second cluster where the nuns had individual quarters. THIS WAS WHERE I STOPPED FEELING SORRY FOR THEM! They had big houses, pianos, their own cooks, laundry (and servants to do laundry), and servants to maintain the house. The servants were mostly local Peruvians so there was no law that said they had to be paid!
Having said that, as I had just stopped feeling sorry for them, I had to get back to feeling sorry for them when Celia explained how the Reformation (in Europe) took a big toll on their lifestyles. All the luxuries (such as servants, private kitchens, etc.) were all taken away and they had to cook in common kitchens, so BACK TO HEARTBREAK!
I was all along curious on where the nuns got their money (to live those opulent lives, at least pre-Reformation) and Celia then said that most of it came from 'dowry' (!!).
There are several websites and Wikipedia that talk about this monastery so I won't go into the details, but things that I fancied:
1. I loved how inside, each of the long corridors are actually "streets" and have street names
2. There's a fancy arse café in one of the nun's residences
3. There still are nuns practising today, although they come voluntarily (none of that 2nd daughter forced thing anymore).
4. I loved the water 'purifier' of the day (see picture)
5. I loved the laundry stone mechanism (see picture)
After I said goodbye to Celia at the end of our hour tour, I could wander around on my own. She dropped me off at a prayer hall with really fancy pictures and statues. It was a semi-museum.
Overall, I really would recommend this place. It takes a good 2 hours of your time but it's very detailed, and it's like a Disneyland of monastery attractions because there's just so much!
Part of the Peru travel blog
6 / 6 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy