Monasterio Museo del Carmen Alto


The Monasterio Museo del Carmen Alto, built in 1653 and still home to an order of 20 Carmelite nuns, now houses an interesting museum. Exhibits explore the daily routines of the nuns who made their lives here, including Marianita de Jesus (1618–1645), Quito's patron saint. The whitewashed two-story building surrounds a sun-filled inner courtyard, and several rooms contain emotive, religiously themed paintings. Free tours in Spanish; tours in English $4.

The cloistered nuns who live in the monastery stay busy producing some of Quito’s tastiest traditional sweets. Top picks include the limones desamargados (literally ‘de-soured lemons’), made by hollowing out tiny lemons and filling them with a sweetened-milk concoction. Purchase them at the small shop near the museum exit, where you can also buy traditional baked goods, aromatic waters for nerves and insomnia, bee pollen, honey and bottles of full-strength mistela (anise-flavored liqueur).

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