Ex-Convento de Santa Catalina
From the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, continue uphill and, at Murguia, detour right again, to the Ex-Convento de Santa Catalina (Cinco de Mayo 600, tel. 951/516-0611, free public tours 5 p.m. Wed., Thurs., and Fri.), the second-oldest women’s convent in New Spain, founded in 1576.
Although the quarters of the first novitiates were spare, the convent grew into a sprawling chapel and cloister complex decorated by fountains and flower-strewn gardens. Juárez’s reforms drove the sisters out in 1862; the building has since served as city hall, school, and movie theater.
Now it stands beautifully restored as the Hotel Camino Real. Note the native-motif original murals that the renovation revealed on interior walls.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition