All about the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries of Arequipa
The Andean Sanctuaries Museum is one of the most important in the city of Arequipa. It is administered by the Catholic University of Santa María). It exhibits Inca pieces that were discovered in the snow-capped mountains of the region. Definitely, the most famous discovery is that of the 'Juanita mummy', an Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 15th century and discovered in the snowy Ampato in 1995.
The museum has different rooms where part of the utensils and textiles used in the Inca sacrifice of children and adolescents are exhibited. There are objects such as textiles, small sculptures of silver, gold, ceramics and more. Likewise, the place offers traveling exhibitions of visual art, plastic arts, among others. The visit to this museum is included in the 'City tour' through the city of Arequipa.
The museum is located just a 200-meter walk from Arequipa's Main Square. It is located at 110 La Merced Street.
The Juanita mummy is a symbol of Peru. His discovery was news that was of interest to all of Peru. It is currently the main attraction of the Andean Sanctuaries of Arequipa museum. It is isolated inside an urn with a steel profile and two plexiglass layers. To preserve your body, it is kept at a temperature of -19ºC. It is one of the greatest finds of Inca sacrifices along with the boy from Salta, the boy from El Cerro El Plomo, the girl from Tanta Carhua and more.
How to get there?
The best way to go to the museum is to walk from anywhere in the historic center of Arequipa. To do this, you must take La Merced street (in one of the corners of the Main Square). If you are outside the city center, you can take a taxi (approximate cost of 10 Peruvian soles).
The museum was created on December 5, 1996. However, it opened its doors to the public in 1997. The site exhibits 5 rooms with objects found in the Inca sacrifices that were found in the main snow-capped mountains and volcanoes of Peru. The famous Juanita mummy stands out, which is preserved isolated from the outside under temperatures of -18ºC.
In the same museum is 'Urpicha', an Inca girl sacrificed and found in the Pichu Picchu volcano in the Arequipa region. Likewise, there is the mummy 'Sarita', an Inca girl found in the Sara Sara volcano in the Ayacucho region. Finally, the remains of 5 other mummies found in the Misti volcano in 1998 are also exhibited. All, probably, were sacrificed in the Capacocha ritual.
The mummy Juanita
Juanita is the name by which the 'Lady of Ampato' is known, an Inca girl sacrificed in the Capacocha ceremony in the snows of the Ampato volcano in Arequipa. The remains of this woman were found in September 1995 during an exploration at more than 6 thousand meters above sea level. Due to the low temperatures, this girl's body was in a good state of preservation.
The good condition of his bones and internal organs made it possible to identify that he died at approximately 13 years of age. It measured 1.58 centimeters. He died of a blow to the head, which produced a 2-inch scar on his skull and internal bleeding that ended his life. His death would have occurred in approximately 1450, under the reign of the Inca Pachacutec.
The Capacocha was an Inca ceremony of human sacrifices with a deep religious, social and cultural significance. It was carried out in times of droughts, natural disasters or diseases. Capacocha comes from a Quechua word (the language of the Incas) that meant 'royal obligation'.
The ritual began with the election of a group of boys or girls from the towns recently annexed to the empire. These had to be beautiful, pure (chaste or virgin) and belonging to the privileged class. The ceremony included a long journey in a straight line (through mountains and snow-capped mountains) to the city of Cusco.
From the city of Cusco, after a ceremony led by the Inca emperor, a long walk was made to a huaca or important mountain (the Incas believed that the mountains were gods that ruled over the life of man). There, finally, after a ritual with coca leaf and chicha (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented corn), the children were sacrificed.
Price of the visit
The cost of the entrance ticket for the general public is 15 Peruvian soles (about 5 US dollars, approximately). Under 18s and university students pay 5 Peruvian soles (approximately 2 US dollars).
Hours of operation
The museum is open every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sundays the opening hours are from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.
In addition to the Juanita mummy, the Arequipa Andean Sanctuaries museum exhibits other human remains of Inca sacrifices such as: the Sarita mummy: the remains of a girl sacrificed in the snowy Sara Sara (Ayacucho). In the museum there are a total of 14 mummies, all surrounded by offerings.
The museum tour lasts an average of 50 minutes. Before starting to tour the rooms, visitors will appreciate a 20-minute educational video. Then, the visit begins through the rooms until ending in the final space where the mummies are preserved together with their offerings.
During your visit to the city of Arequipa, do not forget to visit some of the other museums such as: the Mario Vargas Llosa house museum, the Cathedral museum, the Contemporary Art museum, the SCSM archeology museum, among others.
Some 'Arequipa City Tours' include a visit to this museum, the cost is approximately US$50 per person. Another option is to go on your own. At the door of the place, in exchange for a tip, you can request the services of a professional tour guide.