The "Las Capuchinas" Convent, once the largest and most beautiful of the city's convents, was abandoned after being destroyed in the earthquake of 1773. Restoration began in 1943 and is still being carried out today; the convent now also serves as a museum and has been home to the National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala.
The convent’s foundation dates to 1726, making it the city’s fourth, and is the work of renowned Antigua architect Diego de Porres. These ruins are among Antigua's best preserved, and yet least documented. The convent was the haunt of the Capuchin nuns from Madrid, a rather strict order limiting its numbers to 28 and requiring the nuns to sleep on wooden beds with straw pillows and sever all ties to the outside world, and vice versa. Food was passed to them by means of a turntable, and they could only speak to visitors through a grille.
The church consists of a single nave lacking side aisles. There are two choir areas, one adjacent to the altar on the ground floor and another on the second floor at the end of the nave. Visitors should wander through the ruins - they are beautiful, with fountains, courtyards, flanked by massive stone pillars, stately arches, flowering bougainvillea, and a unique tower, or "retreat", which has eighteen tine cells set into the walls on the top floor and a cellar that probably functioned as a meat storage room. The exterior of the tower is also interesting, ringed with small stone recesses representing the Stations of the Cross.
Location - How to get there? Las Capuchinas Convent is located in Antigua Guatemala at the junction of 2 Calle Oriente and 2 Avenida Norte. The Guatemalan Tourist Information Center is across the street. See location map for directions.
Suitability: Las Capuchinas Convent is certainly the most elegant of Antigua's convents and well worth a look for those with even a casual interest in colonial Latin American architecture. Hours of operation are from 9am to 5pm daily, but make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time, as they usually close at 5pm sharp (regardless of your arrival time). Visits are self-guided and the information kiosk has information booklets.
Contact: If you have any questions about this attraction or have special requests (transportation service or want specialized guided tours of Las Capuchinas and Antigua Guatemala), please contact Gofolklore. We will be delighted to assist you!
Did you Know? La Orden de las Hermanas Capuchinas (The Order of the Capuchin Clares/Sisters), is a religious institute belonging to the second order of San Francisco. They are the female branch of the Franciscan reform of the Minor Capuchin Friars, that originated in the XVI Century.