One of the most impressive buildings in Cochabamba is the Convent of Santa Teresa, on the corner of Ecuador and Aguirre. This still-active convent of Carmelite nuns was established in 1726, and is now open to the public for tours. The nuns live separated from the rest of humanity, hidden away from prying eyes in sections of the temple which are strictly off-limits.
The charming village of Tarata makes a perfect day trip from Cochabamba. It’s a quick 45-minute trip in a minibus, which costs just five Bolivianos, or about $0.70.
Only about 8000 people live in Tarata, but this town boasts a disproportionate amount of importance in Bolivia’s history.
Disillusioned by the horrors of Cerro Rico’s mines and the callous greed of their families, a number of Potosí’s young women renounced the world by entering into the Convent of Santa Teresa. They would never again step outside its walls.
We were pressed for time, and told our guide that we wanted just a quick tour. But the convent’s history was simply too fascinating, and we ended up spending about two hours inside. Santa Teresa was established in 1685, providing a home to a sisterhood of Carmelite nuns. It’s still active today, but its numbers have dwindled significantly, and most of the immense complex is now a museum.