Presenting a place where order has been replaced by randomness – you have entered… the monastery zone.
La Recoleta, also known as El Convento Museo La Recoleta or Museo la Recoleta de Arequipa, dates back decades or centuries, depending on how you’d like to look at it. The church buildings date from the 17th century, but the museum was only opened to the public in 1978.
First founded by Father Pedro de Mendoza in 1648, it was only a few years later that a small church and some of the cloisters were open. The architectural geeks will appreciate the rippled roofs and thick pillars, among other aspects – personally, most old Spanish churches look pretty similar to each other.
It’s unclear why all of these items were collected here, though it wouldn’t be surprising that the donations are connected to what is offered by believers.
Start with a glimpse into a superior’s and a novice’s cell (room), along with a room of photographs. These are really difficult to get good photos of, thanks to the light level being so low and the reflective glass…
One of the first notable stops is a room full of toys:
Hundreds of toy cars, anyone? Also here are plenty of dolls, including one of a Topo Gigio, a boy mouse shown doing housework on TV in the 1960’s.
Nothing to see here, just a bone wearing a tiny hat. Yes, this was considered a toy.
Another couple of rooms are dubbed the Museo Amazonico – great stuffed animals, Batman! Some done well, others not so much…
Nothing quite like a native scene being played out. Look at the teeth on both of them…
A glimpse into the Convert Cemetery (Cementerio Conventual) and a chance to offer a moment of silence for the previous leaders.
Some of the fancier ceremonial pieces from the past are enshrined, though with almost no signage it’s hard to tell what objects are from what era.
Some looks, however, are timeless.
One highlight here is a library full of some 23,000 books, supposedly including a 17th century edition of Don Quixote and at least one document from 1494. The present building dates from 1926, and the story goes that books from 16th-18th century were shipped here from Seville, Spain. They were unloaded and carried across Isthmus of Panama, then reloaded onto another ship and sent down to Lima.
The history of the world, meticulously hand-drawn, with different colored showing different powers of the world.
It’s definitely an odd place, and if you’re in Arequipa, it’s just off of a main road.
Name: La Recoleta, AKA El Convento Museo La Recoleta AKA Museo la Recoleta de Arequipa
Address: Calle Recoleta 117, Yanahuara, Arequipa, Peru (GPS: -16.393904, -71.541485)
Directions: Walk or bus along Av. Ejercito, getting off at Estación Recoleta. If walking, head south along La Recoleta for about 300 meters. Look right for the church.
Hours: According to the sign, Mon-Sat 9am-12 noon and 3-5pm, Wed and Fri until 8pm. (We were a bit early for the 3pm reopening, but were able to enter without issue.
Admission: 10 soles
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
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Also published on Medium.