Standing in the shadow of the beautiful snow-capped volcano of El Misti (5822m) and sandwiched in southern Peru between the mountains of Pichu-Pichu and Chachani can be found the delightful city of Arequipa. Known as the ‘White City’ on account of the white volcanic stone that is used in the construction of many of the city’s buildings, Arequipa has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site due to the beautiful Spanish inspired architecture that can be seen throughout the city.
- Step back in time within the pretty Santa Catalina monastery
- Enjoy the pre-Inca gold artefacts at the Chiribaya Museum
- Marvel at the mighty white sillar walls of the cathedral
- See ‘Juanita’ the Inca maiden sacrificed over 500 years ago
- Trek to the summit of the towering El Misti volcano
At the heart of the city is the Plaza de Armas, which is faced on three sides by arcaded colonial-style buildings and then on the fourth side stands the huge cathedral. There are palm trees, gardens and fountains carefully laid out in the plaza making an extremely striking heart to the city.
Arequipa is famed for its churches and the cathedral is no exception. A vast twin-towered building, which dates back to the 17th Century. Much of it has been rebuilt due to earthquake damage over the centuries. It boasts a huge façade, a fabulous wooden carved pulpit and some ornate paintings. The church of La Compania is also well worth a visit and here you can see some striking artwork and also the Capilla Real or Royal Chapel with its beautiful cupola and cloisters.
Arequipa’s most famous building is the Santa Catalina Convent, which is a miniature walled town of over two hectares in the heart of the city and it has been completely refurbished with period furniture, antiques and artwork from the surrounding area. The convent used to house over 450 nuns in total seclusion, although current numbers are dramatically down and today’s nuns live in one small section of the property, which is a maze of cobbled streets, cloisters, colourful houses and beautiful little plazas bedecked with a riot of pink and red geraniums.
There are also a number of interesting museums such as the Museo Santuarios Andinos, the Archaeological Museum and also the Historico Municipal Museum, all of which have some interesting artifacts.