Everything about the city of Arequipa
Arequipa, white city
Arequipa is known as the 'White City' because a large part of the buildings in its 'Historic Center' are made of ashlar. This white colored stone has volcanic origin due to the eruption of the Chachani volcano millions of years ago. Important architectural works of the city were made of this material, such as: the Cathedral, the church of the Society of Jesus, the temple of San Francisco, the monastery of Santa Catalina, the convent of La Recoleta, the viewpoint of Yanahuara and more. The abundance of buildings made of this material has led to the creation of the so-called 'Ruta del sillar' tour.
The city of Arequipa is located in southern Peru, on the western side of the Andes Mountains. It is 1012 kilometers away from the city of Lima, the capital of the country. The 'White City' is in the Chili Valley (name of the river that runs through the city). It is surrounded by three imposing volcanoes such as: the Chachani, the Pichu Pichu and the Misti.
The city of Arequipa is at 2,335 meters above sea level (7,660 feet of altitude).
The Main Square – The main square of the city is located in the heart of the historic center. It was built during the founding of the city in 1540. Its famous portals made of ashlar stand out. Its pool is known as the 'Tuturutu', a strange character who plays a trumpet and would represent a 16th century soldier.
The San Lázaro neighborhood – The San Lázaro neighborhood is the first to be created in the city of Arequipa. It stands out for its narrow streets, large houses and churches. The first families of Arequipa inhabited their homes. Its white facades built with ashlar stand out.
The San Camilo Market – This popular market is one of the first to operate in the city. It has stalls for sale of meats, fruits, vegetables, meals, clothing, handicrafts and more. It was built in the old convent of the Good Death and Church of San Camilo. It was inaugurated in 1938. In 1987 it was declared a Monumental Historical Heritage.
The Yanahuara viewpoint – This famous viewpoint is located in the Yanahuara neighborhood. It offers a spectacular view of the three peaks: the Chachani, the Pichu Pichu and the Misti. It is located 2 kilometers from the Main Square, in the center of the city. It is one of the most photographed places in Arequipa.
The mill of Sabandía – This farm built in colonial times is famous for having a water mill built in 1621. It is located in the so-called countryside of the city, surrounded by trees and green areas. Its architecture is made of ashlar. Currently, the place has restaurants.
The Goyeneche Palace – This colonial palace is one of the most beautiful in Arequipa. It belonged to the family of Juan de Goyeneche y Aguerrevere, bishop of the city. It is located a few steps from the Main Square. Inside, its French-style furniture stands out, as well as its canvases from the 'Cusco school' of painting.
The house of Moral – This museum farm was the palace of the conqueror Diego Peralta Cabeza de Vaca. It was built with ashlar at the end of the 18th century. Throughout its history it was the home of several aristocratic families in the city. Inside it has colonial furniture as well as a collection of 3,000 volumes of Hispanic literature.
The Mansion of the Founder – As its name suggests, this colonial hacienda was built to be the palace of Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, founder of Arequipa. It is 20 minutes by road from the city center. Its furniture, sculptures, canvases and relics from Europe several centuries ago stand out.
How to get to the city of Arequipa?
There are two ways to get to Arequipa: by bus and by plane. Most flights depart from the city of Lima (approximately 1 hour 20 minutes). Likewise, there are buses that leave, along the Panamericana Sur highway, towards the 'White City' (travel time of 18 hours, approximately). There are also bus routes from the cities of Cusco, Puno and Puerto Maldonado.
Mario Vargas Llosa House Museum – This museum opened in 2014 was home to the Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, born in Arequipa in 1936. It is located on La Merced street, in the house where the writer spent his first days. It has sixteen didactic rooms that include holograms and audiovisual material from the nobel.
Santa Teresa Viceregal Art Museum – This museum is located a few steps from the Main Square, on the premises of the Santa Teresa “Las Carmelitas” monastery. In its 15 rooms it exhibits various treasures such as canvases, liturgical objects of gold, silver, sculptures, furniture and more. The entrance has a cost of 20 Peruvian soles (about 6 dollars, approximately).
Andean Sanctuaries Museum – This museum is one of the most famous in Arequipa because, among its many treasures, it exhibits the remains of a girl sacrificed in Inca times, popularly known as the 'Juanita Mummy'. Their textiles, sculptures, ceramics and more Inca objects also stand out. It is a few steps from the Main Square. Admission is 15 Peruvian soles (approximately $ 5).
The Cathedral – This colonial church has impressive architecture. Its ornate decoration consists of seventy Corinthian columns made of ashlar. Throughout its history it withstood several earthquakes of strong intensity. Inside there are treasures of gold, silver, canvases and marble furniture. The entrance has a cost of 10 Peruvian soles (3 Peruvian dollars).
The Monastery of Santa Catalina – This religious site is one of the most famous attractions in the city. It was built in 1579, a few years after the founding of the city. It is made mainly of ashlar. It consists of 8 spaces used by the religious order of Santa Catalina and that today offer a lot of history and architectural beauty. The entrance costs 40 Peruvian soles (13 dollars, approximately).
Church of the Compañia de Jesus – This church belonging to the order of the Compañía de Jesús was built at the end of the 16th century. Its baroque architecture made of ashlar stands out. Inside they exhibit several relics with religious motifs. The entrance ticket has a cost of 20 Peruvian soles (6 dollars, approximately).
The city of Arequipa has a great gastronomic offer, recognized as one of the best in Peru. Among its most famous dishes are the shrimp chupe, the stuffed rocoto, the Arequipa marinade, the soltero (also known as 'solterito'), the ocopa and more. Its restaurants, especially those located in the center of the city, also offer classic Peruvian dishes such as ceviche, lomo saltado, filled cause and many more. Among the most famous restaurants are the exclusive 'La nueva Palomino', 'Chicha by Gastón Acurio', 'La Trattoria' del Monasterio, 'Zigzag', 'Sol de mayo', 'Salamanto restaurant', 'Benita' and the 'Arequipa Tradition'.
The city of Arequipa has a great hotel offer. There are inexpensive backpacker services to luxurious 5-star services. Most are located in the Historic Center. Some of the most recognized are: the Sonesta Hotel, the Casa Andina Premium, the Cirqa - Relais & Chateaux, the Wyndham Costa del Sol and more.
The city of Arequipa offers a busy night life full of joy and music. The meeting point is the Main Square, from where young people leave to enjoy the bars and nightclubs located around. Among the most famous nightclubs are the 'Forum', the Deja vu, the Jam 'Bos, the Kibosh and the Patria 209. Among the most famous bars are the Pisco Museum, the Qochamama, the Chelawasi Public House and the Peru Bar.
The city of Arequipa has a temperate and dry climate. Due to its strategic location on the western side of the Andes Mountains, just 120 kilometers from the coast, its days are sunny and pleasant while its nights do not have the cold of the mountains. Summers (from November to April) have temperatures of 11ºC. at 23 ° C. During winters (from May to October), temperatures vary from 8ºC. up to 20ºC.
In pre-Inca times, the Chili Valley (river that runs through the city) was inhabited by human groups dedicated to fishing, hunting and the domestication of animals. Among these human groups, the first inhabitants of Arequipa, are the 'Yarabayas', the 'Chimbas' and the community of the 'Collaguas'. Chronicles say that during the incipient Inca state (in the thirteenth century), the ruler Mayta Cápac ordered to stop in the Chili Valley which he called “Ari-quepay” (let's stay here) and went on to populate the place, founding the towns of Yanahuara , Cayma, Tiabaya, Paucarpata, Socabaya, Characato and Chiguata. The Incas appreciated this fertile territory, among other things, for its proximity to snow-capped mountains and volcanoes important to their religion: the Misti, the Pichu Pichu and the Chachani.
With the arrival of the Spanish to Arequipa in the 16th century, the city became part of the nascent viceroyalty of Peru. In 1540, the lieutenant governor of the city, Don Garcí Manuel de Carvajal (by mandate of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro) founded the “Beautiful Villa of Our Lady of the Assumption of Arequipa”. In the following years the first large houses were built as well as churches and even the Cathedral of the city. Because Arequipa had a mostly Spanish population, the libertarian winds did not blow strongly. What did fall hard were the earthquakes that destroyed part of the city throughout its history. For example, the earthquake of 1600, under the viceroyalty of Luis de Velasco y Castilla, which caused much damage to the city.
Arequipa enjoyed an important political and social role during the Republican era. In 1827 the National University of San Agustín was created. In 1835, the 'White City' was the seat of the recently formed Peru - Bolivian Confederation. Likewise, the city was the scene of several military and civil uprisings such as in 1843 and 1854. Years later, Arequipa was slowly modernizing thanks to the construction of the 'Southern Railway' and the textile industry (use of wool). Currently, the city is the second most important in Peru, only behind Lima, the capital. It has more than 1 million inhabitants (2017 census). Its historic center testifies to its colonial past as well as the many difficulties it has had to go through as a result of political crises as well as successive earthquakes.
The inhabitants of Arequipa have a special pride with their city. That identity is manifested in their songs, gastronomy and festivities. Even, at a certain time, Arequipa passports were created (symbolically) as well as Arequipa coins called 'El characato de oro'.
The main festivities of the city are: The festival in honor of the Virgin of Chapi (May 1), the festival of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) and the anniversary of the city (August 15).
Arequipa is known as 'Volcanic Land' due to its proximity to the Misti, Pichu Pichu and Chachani volcanoes. Due to this, throughout its history, the city has withstood the onslaught of strong earthquakes. In the last 4 centuries alone, the city withstood 34 earthquakes. On the other hand, some 300 small earthquakes occur each month in the region, according to various investigations.
Although Arequipa is located in the Andes Mountains, the effects of altitude sickness are not as frequent in its visitors. This is because it is located at a benevolent altitude with the tourist. However, drink plenty of water and adapt to the geography on the first day of your stay.
If you visit Arequipa, do not miss the opportunity to visit one of its tourist attractions located outside the city. For example, the famous Colca canyon. This impressive natural landscape is the second most visited tourist attraction in Peru, only behind Machu Picchu in Cusco.