Founded by Jesuits in the first half of the 17th century as Convento San Ignacio de Loyola, this convent's name was later changed in honor of Spanish-born monk Pedro Claver (1580–1654), who lived and died here. Called the 'Apostle of the Blacks' or the 'Slave of the Slaves,' the monk spent all his life ministering to the enslaved people brought from Africa. In 1888 he was the first person to be canonized in the New World.
The convent is a monumental three-story building surrounding a tree-filled courtyard, and much of it is open as a museum. Exhibits include religious art and pre-Columbian ceramics, and a section devoted to Afro-Caribbean contemporary pieces includes wonderful Haitian paintings and African masks.
You can visit the cell where San Pedro Claver lived and died in the convent, and also climb a narrow staircase to the choir loft of the adjacent church. Should you need one, guides (COP$35,000 in English for a group of up to seven) are available at the ticket office. Completed in the first half of the 18th century, the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver has an imposing stone facade, and inside there are fine stained-glass windows and a high altar made of Italian marble. The remains of San Pedro Claver are kept in a glass coffin in the altar. His skull is visible, making it an altar with a difference.