New Photos-Saint Catalina de Siena Convent, Arequipa

12 01 2009
St. Catalina Convent

St. Catalina Convent

This convent was founded in 1580, and catered to nuns from weathly families and is located near the main center of Arequipa. It includes a mix of Spanish colonial and native architectural styles which are all well preserved. The convent occupies a whole block and is surrounded by high walls, creating as little refuge within the larger city of Arequipa.

Carved sillar stone basin

Carved sillar stone basin

The convent is built of sillar, a porous volcanic stone (composed mostly of feldspar, glass, and quartz) that has a distinctive white and shiny appearance that is also used in many building of Arequipa, which has resulted in the city being nicknamed the ¨White City.¨ The sillar is mined from a quarry at nearby Mt. Chachani.

Though the convent was damaged by earthquakes in 1858 and 1960, it has been restored and opened for public viewing, with some remaining nuns staying within a secluded portion that is closed to tourists (including an orchard).

Typical convent kitchen

Typical convent kitchen

Each of the nuns quarters are fairly large and include multiple rooms, and pleasant outdoor kitchens. Many of the kitchens include custom carved sillar stone features like stone sinks, carved ovens and porous stone water filtration systems. Most even have a little tree planted in the middle, often a fig or other fruit tree.

The convent also includes the use of skylights made from translucent alabaster stones (called Huamanga stones) that provide a surprising amount of light for some of the interior rooms.

Room lit with alabaster stone skylights

Room lit with alabaster stone skylights

Sketch of entire convent

Sketch of entire convent

Alexa in convent

Alexa in convent

Inside convent

Inside convent

Evolution of architecture

Evolution of architecture


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5 responses

12 01 2009
Judy

Thanks for the update, and the recipe…can’t wait to try one!

12 01 2009
Grandad

Love hearing about your sights. Beautiful. Mom loved hearing from you by phone yesterday. Gram

12 01 2009
Jenny

I am so excited to follow your travels. I think we all are living vicariously through you guys! In addition to all the awesome info you guys are providing, I think you need to publush a “how to prepare for a year of travel” guide!!

13 01 2009
alicia

very interesting updates! You guys sound like you are taking good notes! 🙂 Are you going to take any classes while your there? Alexa- I’m lost without my daily emails! haha

16 01 2009
louise

Great pictures! We are living vicariously through you both! Have fun and be safe.

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