Thursday, March 11

La Recoleta

This post, along with many recent ones, are belated reports from January and February. Mom and I went to another Arequipa monastery, La Recoleta. 

La Recoleta is a remnant of the Franciscan missions to Peru, and was built in 1648. In it's time, it must have had a front row seat on the Chili river that runs through the city. Now, the church faces an odd neighborhood with a mix of nice homes and shoddy shacks.
I'm not a big museum person, but this monastery actually had some amazing, although small, exhibits.  One included pieces from the church itself, like this crown:

Another room had artifacts from the Franciscan missionaries' trips to the Amazon, including spears, traditional indigenous wear and other things. 

One room was full of stuffed jungle animals. If I didn't have a phobia of spiders, snakes and giant insects, I would have stayed and studied the exhibit. Pretty interesting. 

But my personal favorite from the Amazon collection was this ridiculous missionary map, which has a line dividing Peru's coast with the "The Fearsome and Mysterious Jungle Full of Savage Tribes":
The monastery also had pre-colonial artifacts and artwork from the famous Cusco School. This mummy, one of many Incan sacrifices found atop one of the many southern Andes peaks, sat in a glass cabinet in not the best conditions. She reminded me of 500-year-old Juanita, only without all the show. 

La Recoleta has some beautiful courtyards too, and this chomba (chicha jar), supposedly the oldest found in Peru.
Reading in my Lonely Planet guidebook as I write, I come to find out that the monastery has a huge library of 20,000 books, some from as early as 1494. I guess I'll be going back there to check it out soon. 

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