Monasterio de las Carmelitas Descalzas
The Monasterio de las Carmelitas Descalzas de Santa Teresa de Arequipa (Melgar 303, tel. 054/28-1188, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sun., US$4, guides work for a tip), founded in 1673, is not as ostentatious as Santa Catalina but definitely is fascinating too.
After the earthquake in 2001, the monastery suffered considerable damage. This is when, after 295 years of total seclusion, and after restoring the religious site, the Carmelite nuns decided to open part of the convent to the world as a museum.
The nuns still keep partially cloistered.
More than 300 works of art are exhibited in the long sillar-built hallways with decoratively painted walls. Carmelite nuns still meander during certain hours of the day, and thus visitors can hear them crossing galleries behind closed doors. If you happen to be there around noon, you will hear, but never see, 21 cloister nuns and five novices singing the Angelus in Latin.
A gallery exhibits techniques and materials used to make effigies, paintings, sculptures, murals, and metalwork during the 17th and 18th century.
Student tour guides, who deserve to be nicely tipped, are available and fluent in English, French, German, and Portuguese. A nice shop in the front patio sells delicious pastries and empanadas baked by the nuns, books about the monastery, and rose-scented soap also made by the Carmelites.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition