HomeMonastery of Santa Catalina de Seina

A city within the city!

20 thousand square meters, four neighborhoods, which emulate the Arequipa urban distribution of the first years of the Colony.

The Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is a monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order, located in Arequipa, Peru.


The Viceroy Francisco Toledo, during his visit to Arequipa, was informed by the council of canons of their wish to found a convent. In response, the viceroy granted them the necessary licenses for the founding of the “Monasterio de Monjas Privado de la Orden de Santa Catalina de Siena,” or “Private Convent of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Catherine of Siena.” Years later, Doña María de Guzmán, the widow of Diego Hernández de Mendoza—a beautiful, rich, young woman who never had children—decided to shut herself away in the convent, which was still under construction, and give away all her earthly belongings.


Santa Catalina was erected in Arequipa, a city founded in 1540 on a site chosen especially for its natural beauty, inviting climate, and an abundance of a unique construction material: sillar, a porous stone formed by volcanic lava. Using the sillar, a breathtaking city was erected, boasting its own particular architectural traits, with exquisite sites rendered with aesthetically pleasing proportions, imposing facades, and delicately sculpted decorative details, making Arequipa stand out among South America’s many lovely colonial cities.


According to certain theories and testimonies, Sister Ana de los Ángeles is thought to have been born on July 26, 1604, although there is no way of knowing the exact date, given that her baptismal certificate was lost in a fire that broke out in the sacristy of the Great Church of Arequipa, the predecessor to the city’s first cathedral, in 1620. Ana was the fourth of eight children born to Sebastián de Monteagudo and Francisca de León: Francisco, Mariana, Catalina, (Ana), Juana, Inés, Andrea, and Sebastián.