Santa Catalina Monastery
Santa Catalina was built in Arequipa, the city that was founded in 1540 in a place specially chosen for its natural beauty and good climate, and with a unique construction material: sillar, a porous stone from volcanic lava used to built a nice city with our own architectural designs, with spaces and proportions of great esthetic value, and also to have carvings on imposing fronts with fine decorative details, making of Arequipa a colonial center of marked identity, within the main urban centers of the continent.
Its architectonic style is mainly colonial, but of a mestizo nature. Different from other colonial heritages in this part of Latin America, in Santa Catalina specially, the fusion of Spanish and native elements can be observed to the point of generating it own creativity.
The recurrent earthquakes affecting Arequipa since 1582 destroyed the older constructions and also the properties of the relatives of the nuns of Santa Catalina over whom the income that guaranteed the future economy and life of the Monastery was dependent.
This was the reason and origin for building the citadel whiting the monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena in Arequipa. The relatives of the nuns decided to build private cells for them, because the common dormitory was damaged and was also too small for the increasing number of nuns. For almost two centuries during the viceroyalty, the cloisters and cells of Santa Catalina have undergone modifications, additions and new constructions. All of these have made of it a sample of the colonial architecture of Arequipa.