Everything about the Main Square of Arequipa
History of the square
The history of the Main Square in Arequipa is closely linked with the founding of the city. The 'Villa de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora del Valle Hermoso de Arequipa' was founded on August 15, 1540 by the lieutenant governor of the colony Garcí Manuel de Carbajal. Since then the construction of the square began. For this, the 'sillar' was used, a volcanic white stone that is abundant in the Chili Valley and in the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
According to the chronicles, the main social and religious activities were carried out in this space. There were even bullfights. However, until 1868 the town's merchants were mainly concentrated in the square. After the earthquake (grade 9 on the Ritcher scale), much of the Cathedral was damaged. It was then that a process of beautification of the place began. The arches were standardized, the Cathedral was improved and the merchants in the area were relocated.
In 1915 a second level was built in the buildings around the square. After the earthquakes of 1958 and 1960, the arches were rebuilt as a result of the serious damage caused by the earthquakes. The main statue, a leprechaun called 'turututu', of colonial origin was restored in 1920. Currently, it is one of the most spacious and beautiful squares in Peru. In 1972, the square and the Historic Center of Arequipa were declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation by Unesco.
In the city of Arequipa, the famous Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa was born, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010. As a tribute, the main libraries in the city bear his name. There is a house museum as well as a palace of fine arts with his name. The novelist is famous for works such as: The city and the dogs. The green house, Conversations in the cathedral, among others.
Arequipa's Main Square is located in the heart of the city's Historic Center. Around it are the Cathedral, the portals as well as dozens of craft shops, restaurants, cafes and more.
How to get?
From anywhere in the Historic Center of Arequipa you can walk to the square. Most hotels and lodgings are in that area.
What to do?
The Cathedral – The most important religious temple in the city was built from 1540 to 1656 with different materials such as ashlar and ignimbrite, both stones of volcanic origin, abundant in the area. It has a neo-Renaissance style with Gothic influence. Its façade of seventy columns with Corinthian capitals stand out, as well as three portals and two side arches. Inside there are paintings, sculptures, an immense organ as well as its surprising high altar and other treasures. Most of these are exhibited in his museum.
The Church of the Society of Jesus – A few steps from the Main Square stands the huge church of the Order of the Society of Jesus. It was designed and built by the architect Gaspar Báez. However, the 1650 earthquake forced its reconstruction, the design of which remains until today. It has a baroque style with features of mestizo architecture. Inside, the decoration with fine altarpieces covered in gold leaf stands out, paintings from the 'Cusco school of painting' as well as sculptures and other treasures with religious themes
Handicrafts, restaurants, cafes and more – Around the Main Square de Arequipa there are different tourist services where clothing stores made of alpaca fiber (camelid with fine fur), chocolate shops, cafes, lodgings, bars, restaurants and more. In the middle of the square there are street vendors that offer some tourist products such as selfie sticks, sunscreen, hats, polo shirts and more.
It is dangerous?
Arequipa's Main Square is one of the safest places in the city. Police provide security on site 24 hours a day.
Parties in the Main Square
In the Main Square de Arequipa some of the main celebrations of the city take place such as:
The anniversary of the city – The city of Arequipa was founded during the colonial era, on August 15, 1540. Currently, the celebrations are held with different cultural, civic, festive and gastronomic events. The most important are carried out in the square such as dance shows, music, competitions of typical dishes of the region, among others.
Arequipa Carnival – Carnivals are celebrated throughout Peru with water games, talcum powder and picapica between men and women. In the city of Arequipa, in addition to this, typical dance shows are held with festive motifs between the different historical neighborhoods of the city. During these celebrations the election of the 'queen of carnivals', the gastronomic fairs and the different fairs are also characteristic. Most events take place in the square.
Holy Week in Arequipa – The famous religious celebration that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ is celebrated in Arequipa with some peculiar customs deeply rooted among the population. For example, it highlights the gastronomic fairs where the porridge of different fruits stands out. Likewise, it is worth mentioning the masses and representation of the 'Via Crucis' in the different towns of the region. However, what draws the most attention is 'Resurrection Sunday', when the 'Burning of Judas' takes place in the Main Square, a fireworks event where an act of execution is symbolized against this biblical character.
a) What to eat around the Square of Arequipa?
Arequipa's gastronomy is one of the best in Peru. Around the square you can taste some of its most representative dishes, such as: the stuffed hot pepper, the adobo, the ocopa, the shrimp chupe or the solterito.
b) When is the best time to go? What time?
The dry season months (from April to October) are ideal for visiting Arequipa. On those days the rains are not frequent. During the day, the best time to visit the square is between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. Even going at night is an excellent option.
c) What to bring?
Bring a cap or hat, a snack or rehydration water as well as some extra cash in case you want to buy a craft or buy food.
d) Can I get tours?
In the surroundings of the Main Square de Arequipa there are the premises of several tourism agencies that offer tours to the main tourist destinations such as: the Colca Valley, the Santa Catalina monastery, the Salinas National Reserve and Aguada Blanca, among others.
e) What crafts to buy?
Handicraft shops are also abundant around the square. Do not miss the opportunity to take home some clothing made of alpaca as well as the delicious Arequipa chocolates.
f) Can I have fun at night around the square?
Yes. A few steps from the main square, there are discos and bars where fun is guaranteed. Some of the most famous nightclubs in the city are Jam's Bos, Papos Disco Pub, Deja Vu, among others.
g) How much does a taxi cost from the airport to the square?
The cost of the taxi ride from Arequipa airport to the city's Main Square has a cost of 3 or 4 US dollars, approximately.
h) What is the weather like?
The climate in the city of Arequipa is temperate, with maximum temperatures of 26ºC. and minimum of 10ºC.