The fascinating history of the Convent of Santa Catalina could have been written by Garcia Marquez or another great Latin American writer. Dark, secret, full of mysteries, the [poi = 107016] Arequipa [/ poi] Nunnery keeps in its heart the memory of women belonging to royal families or very wealthy families who lived life as saints or - in some cases - courtesans. The monastery looks like a fortress, is a beautiful maze of courtyards and alleys with small houses-come-cells, some of them equipped with kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and chapels. The Convent of about 20,000 sq ms, is painted blue, ochre and white, and is furnished with period furniture and objects. Some of the spaces leave you speechless. Behind the walls, the nuns lived in great luxury surrounded by a retinue of slaves and servants.
It is the town's only building that has been preserved like in colonial times. Built in 1660 as part of the monumental complex of the former convent of the Society of Jesus, this complex is made up of buildings constructed by the Jesuits for religious and living purposes. The Church of the Company, designed in 1573 by Gaspar Baez, was the most obvious, and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1584. The current structure dates from 1650. The cloisters are three consecutive buildings with high arches and richly decorated columns with gargoyles to drain the rain water. Today, after its last restoration, different craft shops, jewellery stores and offices are located in its arcades.
Teh Bolognesi Bridge is one of the three bridges over the River Chili Arequipa, also known as the "Old Bridge." Its construction began in 1577, designed by the by the architect Juan de Aldana and was not completed until 1608. Cross the river by the bridge and follow Bolognesi Street and you come to the main square, the sides of the road are different 'tambos' (group of houses) and also warehouses, particularly saddlery. From the bridge there is a beautiful view of Arequipa, the river, and of course, the Misti volcano.