Carmen Alto Convent (Museo de Carmen Alto)
Founded in 1653 on the site where Saint Mariana of Jesus lived and died, Carmen Alto Covent is one of the few Carmelite convents in the world open to visitors. Home to 20 nuns, Monasterio de Carmen has become an important pilgrimage place to honor the Ecuadorian saint and to view the religious art in the museum housed in the cloister.
Tours of the two-story convent include two cloisters with a museum featuring the private collection of religious art in the care of the Carmelites for several centuries. Elsewhere within the building, you can get a sense of the daily life of this religious community and how Saint Mariana de Jesús lived in the 17th century. After the tour, spend some time in the sun-filled courtyard. Skip the line with a Top Attractions Pass, which includes a tour of a number of the city's top sites including Mitad del Mundo, Capilla del Hombre, Museo de la Ciudad. Transportation and bike rentals are included.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Carmen Alto Convent is an ideal spot for culture and history lovers and Christian pilgrims.
- There is a small admission fee.xa0
- Guided tours in Spanish are free of charge; tours in English are available for a small fee.
- Purchase traditional sweets, baked goods, and other organic products at the small shop, all of which are produced by the nuns.
- Much of the information within the museum is in Spanish.
How to Get There
Carmen Alto Convent (Monasterio de Carmen) is located on the corner of García Moreno and Rocafuerte in the historic center of Quito, within easy walking distance from most attractions in the old town. Take most bus lines to the Vicente Rocafuerte y Cuenca stop. From here, walk about two minutes.
When to Get There
Carmen Alto Convent is open from Wednesday to Sunday from the morning until the evening. Peak season in Quito runs from June to September, coinciding with the Ecuadorian dry season. Throughout the year, the high-altitude climate is consistently spring-like, with temperate days andxa0 chilly nights. To experience the city in festival mode, visit from February to April for Carnival and the religious holiday, Semana Santa.
St. Mariana de Jesus
Carmen Alto Convent includes the former living quarters of Mariana de Jesus, a religious woman who lived in Quito at the beginning of the 17th-century and became the first officially beatified saint of Ecuador. Several rooms recreate the living conditions of the Carmelite sisters who joined Mariana. After she died, as the story and apparently city records show, lillies grew from the cross on which she crucified herself.
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- Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
- City Museum of Quito (Museo de la Ciudad)
- Quito Old Town
- Santo Domingo Plaza (Plaza de Santa Domingo)
- El Sagrario Church
- Presidential Palace
- Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)
- Calle La Ronda
- Museum of Colonial Art (Museo De Arte Colonial)
- Cathedral of Quito (Catedral de Quito)
- Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)
- El Panecillo
- Archbishop's Palace (Palacio Arzobispal)
- Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)