Monasterio Santa Catalina in Arequipa


Wow! We were blown away by this sprawling, spectacular 16th century monastery. Talk about a visual feast. One beautiful sight after another. The monastery is sort of a self contained mini walled in city with one vaulted “cell” after another for the cloistered nuns, who as I understand it were usually girls from well to do families who lived much better than your everyday nun. Their quarters were often spacious and the thick stone vaulted walls painted in startling hues of red, blue, ochre, and burnt orange. They had their own kitchens and servant quarters. Granted the beds looked a bit spartan. They also had gorgeous cloisters to gather, with painted murals every where and flowers and cactus plants. There were narrow brick or tiled lanes bordered by stone residences. I don’t know how true to life the restoration was but seemed pretty nice. I got some decorating ideas, including some fabulous wall color ideas. of course it will be hard in Iowa to replicate the
monastery’s view from on high of a snow capped volcano.

As my husband noted, some museums grab me more than others. Grand cathedrals and museums full of old paintings tend to bore me quickly.But give me an old house or monastery where I can wander through the rooms and see how people live and I am wide awake. I also love folk art and the kind of melodramatic Spanish art thAt filled the monasterio. There was also a very cool video in a side gallery of contemporary Andean male dancers doing some crazy moves while holding onto a pair of what looked like very sharp scissors. MUST read up on that.

At the public mercado (you knew I would find that right?) we marveled at the astonishing selection of potatoes (Peru is the home of the potato) and produce. Our stomaches are a bit iffy today so we ate lightly. Although we did get a little paper cone with five Dulces (sweets) …tiny crispy cones filled with creamy caramel. Here are some photos of our hotel and the monastery.

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