About Museo de los Descalzos
The Museo de los Descalzos is a Franciscan convent and museum with a large collection of religious paintings which was founded in the late 16th century.
History of the Museo de los Descalzos
In 1611, the then viceroy, Juan de Mendoza y Luna had a walk known as the Alameda de los Descalzos drawn up, and the Convento de los Descalzos was constructed at the end – the walkway was intended to beautify the way to the convent.
The convent itself was the residence of Franciscan monks known as “Los Descalzos” (the barefoot) for over 400 years. It was from here that hundreds of missionaries were based as they set out to evangelize remote areas of the Peruvian highlands.
It’s a prime example of colonial era architecture – the cloisters are a particular highlight for many. It’s relatively austere, as befitting the Franciscans, and has stylistic features normally found in a hacienda. The complex consists of a church, chapel, extensive orchards, gardens, and seven cloisters. The building was declared a National Historic Monument in 1972.
Museo de los Descalzos today
Today, the convent is still run by the Franciscans: the museum was opened in 1981, and is open daily (closed for an hour at lunch).
The museum houses an assortment of saints’ relics and over 300 colonial paintings – including plenty from the famous Cusco school. You’ll also be able to nose around the former monastic cells, infirmary and see the wine-making equipment in the kitchen.
45 minute guided tours are available in Spanish regularly: they bring the place to life a bit more, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Franciscan Order, and their mission in Peru.
Getting to the Museo de los Descalzos
The museum is at the northern end of the Alameda de los Descalzos. Buses stop on Av. Prol. Tacna: cheap-as-chips taxis are available from the centro historico, or you can walk – it’s about 2km.