Peru - St. Catalina Monastery
Located in the historic center of Arequipa, the Monastery is a real citadel in the city. Built in volcanic stone about 40 years after the arrival of the Spaniards, it is one of the most important examples of colonial architecture in the city. The monastery suffered several damages due to earthquakes that hit the area with a certain frequency, this led to changes and accommodation in time until 1970 when it was opened to the public.
Currently the monastery is divided into two distinct parts, one is the one that can be visited and which has undergone considerable restoration and a minor part, called the new monastery, in which the cloistered nuns live, which gradually decreased over time.
The visit to the citadel can be done following a recommended route but it is frequent that with the intent to observe a little everything is deviated and you end up walking in a disordered way.
The citadel is a maze of alleys, cloisters, squares and apartments. Each cloister is distinguished by a different color (red, blue or white) of the columns and vaults. The side corridors of the kiosks are covered with paintings on the lunettes that lead to the walls that represent Saints, moments of the life of Christ, of the Madonna or of Santa Caterina da Siena.
Even the alleys are colorful and prevails the strong red color, on them overlook the doors of the various apartments, everything is taken care of, with many plants and flowers adorning corners, stairs and various passages. Everything is well maintained and many tourists visit this structure that looks like a postcard rather than a place of silence and prayer.
What strikes the visitor are the apartments of the nuns / novices, in Europe we are used to seeing small, often dark cells with minimalist furniture, a bed, a kneeler, a wardrobe and little else, here things are very different , we are talking about real apartments consisting of several rooms, sitting room, bedroom, kitchen with oven and garden, a seclusion a bit 'convenient. All this indicates that the novices were not always of the people but many belonged to a certain social class. This nothing detracts from the faith of these nuns so much that one of them, Sister Ana, prioress of the Monastery who died in 1686, was beatified in 1985 by John Paul II.
Inside the Monastery there is an art gallery consisting of two rooms with barrel ceilings in which a certain number of works (mainly religious paintings) are exhibited, some were once placed in the various internal areas and chapels but many are of external origin to the Monastery.
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