Santa Catalina Convent is found in Arequipa, the colonial-era capital of Peru’s Arequipa Region.  It was built in 1601 and was founded by Lucia Isabel Rivera de Padilla after the original convent she had founded in 1559 was destroyed by the Waynaputina Volcano.  In 1975 the convent was transformed into a museum, although a small number of nuns continue to live at the convent.

Once you pay the entrance fee and enter Santa Catalina Convent, you can hire a guide to take you on a personal tour of the museum which takes about an hour.  The price can vary depending on how many are in your group (we had 5 people) and is reasonably priced.  It’s a great way to see and learn about the convent and the historical items is houses.  Once the tour is over, you can continue to explore the museum on your own until closing time.

After the tour we spent just over another hour exploring the museum, it’s art, gardens and many rooms.  You definitely need a few hours to do the tour and explore on your own.

Beautiful Colours

One of the first things you will notice once inside are the amazing colours of the buildings and gardens throughout the convent.

Santa Catalina Convent


As you walk around the covered walkways which border courtyards, look up to see the beautiful paintings on the walls.

Living Quarters

You are able to view some of the old living and cooking quarters.

Santa Catalina Convent


There is a beautifully manicured garden that you need to spend time in.

Santa Catalina Convent

Go Up to the Lookout for Views of Arequipa

When you get to this courtyard find the steps that lead up to the top of this building.  Because you are reasonably high, you will get uninterrupted 360 degree views of Arequipa.

Coloured buildings
View from the convent
The view from the roof top

If you are planning a trip to Peru, consider a visit to the Ballestas Islands.

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Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa

16 Responses

  1. Hi Lisa, what a beautiful place with so many rich colours. I had a childhood dream of visiting Peru and your pictures just provoke that desire even more. It’s a must visit place for me.

    1. Peru is definitely an amazing place to visit Karen. We loved it so much from the colourful people and buildings, to the history and the wildlife.

  2. We are heading to Peru next year and I was wondering if we should visit Santa Catalina, definitely going to follow your advice. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Peru is amazing Jennifer. If you have a couple of spare hours in Arequipa, it’s definitely worth visiting.

  3. This is amazing, the colors are beautiful. It’s like a little village almost. Although I haven’t been to Peru, I’d love to go and places like this really make me want to go

    1. Actually it is like a little village Emma. As a convent, it was very much self contained for many years.

  4. Wow, this is stunning! I love the colors, it reminds me of the Blue City in Morocco. Doesn’t look like a bad place to live, whether you’re a nun or not! Some of the pictures look straight out of a movie, I wasn’t sure that convents from this era actually looked like that. What’s the culture there, was it very strict? Did they have a lot of freedoms?

    1. I haven’t been to Morocco but from photos it definitely is like the Blue City Claire. I think when the convent was first established it was fairly strict but for the nuns who live there now, its very much about sharing their beautiful home with everyone.

  5. Oh I haven’t even been to South America yet, would love to go to Peru! It looks amazing!

  6. Talk about the most photogenic place! I would love to walk around with my camera. I can only imagine what the gardens look like! Beautiful photography!
    I am planning for Peru in a few years so I’ll put this on my list!

    1. If you can, definitely add Arequipa to your must visit places in Peru Lauren. It’s beautiful.

  7. This brings back amazing memories of my time in Peru. Santa Catalina is such a special place in Arequipa. I spent hours in there wandering about the colourful courtyards. I’m glad to see it’s still just as vibrant as when I visited it. Stunning 🙂

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