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Santa Catalina Convent, Cusco

The Santa Catalina Convent and Museum (Monasterio y Museo de Arte de Santa Catalina) was built between 1601 and 1610 over the ruins of the ancient Acllawasi, the "House of the Sun Virgins" or "House of the Chosen Girls."


In Incan times, the most beautiful and virtuous noblewomen in the region were chosen to live in the Acllawasi and be devoted to the cult of the Sun God. They weaved clothes for ceremonial purposes, assisted in religious ceremonies, and prepared the sacred bread and beer.

Lucia Isabel Rivera de Padilla founded the Santa Catalina Convent (named for St. Catherine of Siena) in 1601 after one she had founded in 1559 in Arequipa was destroyed by the Waynaputina Volcano. Since 1975, the convent has housed a museum of colonial religious art.

What to See

The interior of the monastery is quite beautiful, with painted arches and an interesting chapel with baroque frescoes of Inca vegetation.

Other items of interest include very macabre statues of Jesus and an extraordinary trunk that, when opened, displays the life of Christ in 3-D figurines. (It was employed by the Catholic Church's "traveling salesmen," who were used to convert the natives in far-flung regions of Peru).

The main altar of the convent church is tucked behind steel bars. Santa Catalina has one of the most beautiful capitulary rooms in Peru, which is completely decorated with mural paintings.

The Santa Catalina Museum's collection includes some of the greatest works of Amerindian art (a combination of indigenous and Spanish styles) in Cusco.

It includes an excellent selection of Escuela Cusqueña paintings and four paintings of the Lord of the Earthquakes (El Señor de los Temblores) painted by Amerindians. There are numerous paintings of Santa Rosa de Lima, The Virgin of Belen with Saint Jose and Saint Juan, the Elevation of the Virgin, and Saint Rafael the Archangel.

Guided tours are available. At the end of your tour, you can buy mazapanes and creams prepared by the Santa Catalina nuns.

Quick Facts on Santa Catalina Convent

Site Information
Names:Santa Catalina Convent and Museum; Santa Catalina Convent and Museum, Cusco
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Cusco, Peru
Coordinates:13.517780° S, 71.977143° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Santa Catalina Convent

Below is a location map and aerial view of Santa Catalina Convent. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. Frommer's Peru, 2nd edition
  2. Church and Monastery of Santa Catalina – CuscoWeb.com
  3. Santa Catalina Convent and Museum – Cusco-Peru.org
  4. Santa Catalina – Qosqo.com

More Information

Article Info

Title:Santa Catalina Convent, Cusco
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:09/10/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/peru/cusco-santa-catalina-convent-and-museum">Santa Catalina Convent, Cusco</a>