Founded in 1580, Santa Catalina Monestery was during its first 300 years a refuge for unmarried daughters of wealthy Spanish families who paid a dowry for inclusion into the Catholic order. But instead of keeping to vows of poverty, these nuns kept servants and slaves and lived lavish lifestyles.
In 1871, the Pope sent Sister Josefa Cadena to put things right, which she did by sending most of the daughters of nobility back to Spain, setting the slaves and servants free and giving them the choice of staying on as nuns. The walled-in convent, covering an area of more than 35,311 square yards (29,426m2), was opened to the public in 1970. Since then, visitors have been able to stroll through the streets and cloisters and appreciate this masterpiece of colonial architecture.
The convent houses some of the finest examples of Spanish American religious art.
Built by the Franciscans in 1647, contains several cloisters, a huge library of more than 20,000 rare books, museums covering religious art, the Amazon and Pre-Columbian artifacts.
Contains the remains of several mummies, most notably “Juanita,” a teenager who was ritually sacrificed to the Inca mountain deity Ampato and buried in the snow on the mountain at about 19,800 feet (6,000m). Her perfectly preserved body was discovered tightly wrapped in richly patterned fabric in 1995 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and Peruvian mountain climber Miguel Zárate.
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