Monday, October 18, 2010

Arequipa (Part 3)..

'Santa Catalina' is Arequipa's best kept open secret, secret because we never guessed that within those walls was a town within this town. The monastery was built in 1579. It was opened up to the public only in 1970. Its an amazingly beautiful religious building. Unlike the grandiose churches we visited Santa Catalina was designed to be a place where the nuns lived. This makes it different from all the other colonial religious structures built around Arequipa.
Santa Catalina from the Outside
The building is made from the signature white stellar stone quarried from the volcanoes that abound around Arequipa.  And like all the other buildings of note suffered damage during the earthquakes of 1958 and 1960. It was restored
Entrance to Santa Catalina

The map shows the layout of the little town inside those walls

The Parlor
The Nuns communicated with the outside world through windows made of wood. Exchange of products that they might have needed also happened here.

First Courtyard
We started our tour , map in hand at the First courtyard and followed the signs around this little town. Along some of the corridors we found several paintings, most of them depicting scenes from the bible. The suffering and Crucifixion of Christ was told in elaborate details through the art of their time. The paintings are supposed to belong to the Peruvian Viceroyalty period.
Clay Oven
Inside we found a world which we never thought existed. The architecture was exquisite and charming in extraordinary ways. There was so much attention to detail . The colours of the walls were vibrant. There were flowers along the walkways. There were pretty little praying halls.
One of the streets leading to several rooms where the nuns probably lived

Communal Laundry made of Clay Jar

Streets lines with Germanium

The Bell tower

The Kitchen
The communal Kitchen (seen in the picture about) was supposed to have been built in 1871 and had a full fledged bakery, dispensary and multiple stoves


Confessional - An Enclosed Room

It took us a good two hours to explore the entire city, walking in and out of tiny rooms and into beautiful corridors opening up into courtyards at regular junctions.
No matter how beautiful it was , I still couldn't comprehend the kind of rigorous discipline it must take to stay put within those walls, the ability to shut oneself from the world outside.
Some choices seem so hard.



  1. beautiful pictures and crisp writing..

  2. wow - u are on fire with the posts!!! :) south America sounds lovele- have to read ur posts in detail though....

  3. seriously. that wooden grid through which they received visitors. i mean. my god. i wonder what it takes to shut youself up like that...
    the walls are such a pretty colour!! with the flowers et all... so postcard"esque"



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