Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina
From the Plaza de Armas, head down Arequipa to Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina (Arequipa, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$2.50 or US$5 with entry to Coricancha), which was built on top of the enclosure where the chosen virgins of the Inca lived, known as the acllahuasi, or “house of the chosen ones.”
In a strange historical twist, the Spaniards converted the building into a convent, where 30 nuns remain cloistered to this day. Holy women have thus lived in this building for at least five centuries.
The museum has a good collection of Cusco School paintings and an impressive Renaissance altar. A highlight is a trunk containing miniature figurines depicting the life of Christ, which was used by Catholic missionaries for proselytizing in far-flung regions of Peru.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition