The convent of Santa Catalina
Founded in 1579 under the advocacy of Saint Catherine of Siena, and Arequipa´s largest architectural
patrimony, owes its construction to doña Maria de Guzman, a widow who never had any children, who
decided to donate all her patrimony to the convent where she sought seclusion.
According to their statues, when the novices entered the convent they had to pay dowry of two thousand
silver coins plus one hundred pesos for sustenance. Thus, during the mid-18th century, the convent had
57 nuns. As time went by, the convent became a sort of citadel enclosed by a tall wall over four buildings
acquired by the Council of Justice and the Regiment of Arequipa.
After four centuries of existence, the convent - opened to the public since 1970 - is an incomparable
example of the Mestizo architecture that developed in Arequipa between the 17th and 19th centuries, and
which incorporated Andean techniques and motifs to European norms. The bright colored sillar buildings,
its plazas adorned with water fountains and its beautiful colonial temple that guards important works of art,
have turned Santa Catalina into one of the White City´s greatest expression of colonial art.