I hadn’t actually meant to play tourist on this day. I headed out with the intention of walking downtown and having lunch. I needed a good long walk, so I dispensed with Google maps and just started wandering down towards the river. I took way too many photos on this day so I will keep the comments to the minium and try to find photos I can bear to cut out.
When I got into town I still was just walking without a goal. I saw the wall above, and assumed that it was the Monastery. I found the door, but it wasn’t open to the public, so I went on.
I really didn’t want to take a tour of Monastery, but I was curious about the price and the hours of operation. When I did find an open door, it turned out to be a free exhibition of photographs. I went in, and as I walked around I could see into the Monastery though some open windows. I got intrigued by what I saw, and I went in search for the tourist entrance.
The photo galleries were inside part of the old Monastery grounds, in an area I was later to learn was the Cultural Extension Rooms. When I exited, I spotted a French flag and had to go investigate. It turned out to be the Alliance Française.
Finally I found the entrance to the Monastery. I was a bit shocked at how much it cost to go in, but by that time I was so eager to see it that I forked over the the s/40 ($12 USD) with only a slight cringe. Once I had made that investment of money, and knowing that I would be making a large investment of time, I coughed up another s/20 for a guided tour. I had a great tour guide who took me all over the Monastery. I waited until the tour was over, then went back through to take photos.
The first thing I learned was that it was called Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena. The second thing I learned was that it was a Monastery for nuns. I had always thought that Monasteries were for monks and nunneries were for nuns. This Monastery is quite different than anything I had ever seen before. Rather than being like a big communal living structure, it was like a small town.
When the place was originally founded it was only for wealthy women. There was a tradition that the second daughter and the second son of a family would go into service of the church. The women who came here paid a dowery which in today’s USD would be $150,000. They were also expect to bring all their furnishings and servants. Each nun had a little house of her own, where she lived with her servants and sometimes relatives who were also nuns.
The photos above and below were taken in the Novice Cloister. Girls would come here quite young. When they became nuns they moved into their own homes. The paintings under the arches correspond to the rosary. The girls could walk around the colonnade and the recite the rosary as they walked, with this impressive cheatsheet overhead.
Above and below are of the same novice’s cell. The woman in white is a statue. I was rather impressed at how large the room was. What look like shuttered windows are actually doors to storage areas. The walls are very thick and the cabinets were quite deep.
As I walked through the streets of the Monastery, I was able to duck into a lot of the homes which were restored. The Monastery was hit by two bad earthquakes in the 1960s. The nuns moved into a new building that only takes up part of the grounds. They are completely cloistered. The closed door I had found first, was the one that leads to the modern cloister. A lot of the old Monastery has been restored, but the upstairs areas where the servants (and slaves) would have lived where not restored. My guide told me that they had been made of wood. There were fires assoicated with the earthquakes.
Above and below are the music school room. I like the way that they put a large chair for the teacher and a small chair for the student. The Monastery was used as a boarding school for girls who would not be becoming nuns.
Monastery is open at night for reenactments, and the fires are lit. This gives the old kitchens a lived-in smell. It was actually very pleasant. The reenactments are only in Spanish, but I am tempted to go back to see one.
I have a feeling that this statue was carried in processions. In person the eyes were shocking blue. That struck me as strange in a Spanish country, but maybe back when the wealthy women were there, they were from pure Spanish families.
Above was the stairway to the look out. My guide waited while I went up and took the photo below. It is the only one I took during my tour. The photo turned out better than it looked in person.
Sister Ana de los Ángeles was a nun who was credited with a few miracles. They have been pushing to have her made a saint, but they have only gotten to the beatification stage of the process. It sounds like, that during her life she was a bit of a casandra, and not much liked because she was always accurately predicting people’s deaths. After her death there were some miracles that didn’t freak people out as much.
There was a bust made from scans of her skull, in one of the rooms. I didn’t take photos of it because it was just a bit creepy. Wikipedia has a photo of it, if you want to see it.
This monastery of wealthy women, couldn’t help but attract attention. There came a time when Rome had had enough of the stories of luxury. In 1871 Sister Josefa Cadena, a strict Dominican nun, was sent by Pope Pius IX to reform the monastery. She sent the rich dowries back to Europe, and freed all the servants and slaves, giving them the choice of either remaining as nuns or leaving.
After the reform, the individual houses were not used for the nuns any more. The areas that are now used as art galleries were used as barracks for the nuns. They did have curtains between their beds.
When I got through wandering around the monastery, I was disappointed to find that it was the middle of the afternoon, and many of the small restaurants were closed. I figured that I would walk home and make myself something to eat. I was far too hungry and tired, so as I was passing one of the malls close to town, I stopped and found a bar that served ceviche.
After finishing my lunch I noticed that the mall had a grocery store chain that I had been told was more upscale than the one I shop at. I went in to check it out. They sell white bread, with the crust already removed. I guess that could be called upscale.
Though the meal and drink had been quite cheep, just over $19 USD including the tip, they hadn’t been stingy with the booze, so I decided that the better part of valor was to take a cab home. The taxi was just over $2 USD. The tip I gave at the restaurant was too high. I thought that when the guy gave me the machine, I was supposed to put in 15%, like I had at other restaurants. Nope, I ended up tipping him s/15, about twice what I should have tipped him. So my meal should have cost $17 USD. He must have thought I really liked the service.
After having had lunch out I reminded myself, that with Peru being famous for food, and there being so few Peruvian restaurants in the US, I had better eat our more, taking advantage of my time here.