The San Camilo market in Arequipa
The San Camilo market is one of the largest in southern Peru. It was born after the 1868 earthquake, which destroyed the sumptuous church of San Camilo. In 1938 this food center was inaugurated where hundreds of Arequipa and foreign tourists arrive. The place is very big. There you can get all kinds of products such as groceries, crafts, juices, Arequipa food and more. There, in addition, visitors will learn more about the culture of the city, its customs, its clothes, its music and more.
All about the San Camilo Market
The San Camilo market is the largest and most famous in the city of Arequipa. Due to its location close to the Main Square, many tourists flock there. The place was initially occupied by the religious order of ‘San Camilo de Lelis’, who built the Convent of the Good Death and the Church of San Camilo. In 1869, due to an earthquake, the temple was destroyed. In its place the market was born, which was inaugurated in 1938. Inside, in addition to all kinds of edible products, handicrafts and various utensils, you can still see the sculptures of San Camilo, Señor del Perdón and San Pedro. The market is considered a Historic Monumental Heritage of the city. Today it is one of the most famous tourist attractions.
The market is located on Calle San Camilo, about 700 meters from the Main Square in Arequipa.
How to get?
From Arequipa’s Main Square, the best way to go to the San Camilo market is on foot. To do this, you must take Álvarez Thomas Street to San Camilo Street, where the market is located. The walking route takes about 10 minutes.
If you visit the San Camilo de Arequipa market, do not miss the opportunity to taste the delicious Arequipa cuisine. Some of its most representative dishes are stuffed rocoto (based on hot peppers) and adobo (pork meat stew). Both dishes can be found in the ‘Meals’ section at very low prices (they range from 8 Peruvian soles or even less).
The history of the market begins during the colonial era, who were the forerunners of the ‘Red Cross’. In 1813 the construction of the ‘Convent of the Good Death and Church of San Camilo de Lelis’ began, which was completed in 1817. According to the scholar Juan G. Valdivia, the church was the most beautiful in Peru. In 1868, the city of Arequipa suffered one of the strongest earthquakes in its history. By then, for more than 40 years the order had left the temple. The church had been serving as a military hospital (during the civil war between Salaverry and Santa Cruz) and a school.
On May 1, 1938, the current structure of the San Camilo market was inaugurated there. It was a project required by the city. Until then, street markets were held in the main square. In 1958 and 1960 the city suffered two earthquakes that damaged the façade of the market. In the 1980s the reconstruction was carried out to acquire the modern form. In 1987, the market was declared ‘Monumental Historical Heritage of Arequipa’. It is also considered Cultural Heritage of the Nation of Peru.
Culture in the San Camilo market
The San Camilo market is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the culture of Arequipa and Peru. The first thing that catches your eye is the exquisite gastronomy where typical dishes such as stuffed hot pepper, ceviche, lomo saltado, suckling pig, adobo and more stand out. These dishes, unlike the restaurants in the city center, can be found at lower prices.
In the San Camilo market it is also possible to learn more about the customs of the Peruvians: the music they listen to, the clothing, the language and more. For example, in Arequipa there are still people who speak Quechua (language of the Incas) or Aymara (language of the highland region).
Finally, the San Camilo market offers affordable prices for a wide variety of products. It is a good alternative to buy food, snacks, handicrafts or any other product during the trip through Arequipa.
What else to see?
Procession of the Lord of Forgiveness – Every Passion Saturday in Holy Week, the image of the Lord of Forgiveness is carried on a litter through the streets of Arequipa. This religious celebration is accompanied by a music band, gastronomic dishes and a lot of joy and faith on the part of its devotees. After the tour, the figure of the saint returns to the interior of the market where the music and the celebration continue.
Patronal feast of San Camilo – The figure of San Camilo de Lelis gave the name to the market. Every July 14, this image is venerated with a religious ceremony accompanied by a marching band and dance performance. During those days, the sculpture of San Camilo is taken out of its showcase in the market to, after the party, return to its place until next year.
The architecture of the San Camilo market is modern. Its interior is covered by a light iron roof (similar to the San Pedro del Cusco market). For this reason it is believed that it was the work of the French architect Gustave Eiffel.
During some special dates, the San Camilo market offers some typical products of the region. For example, during Holy Week, the tasty typical breads of the region abound, such as: wheat bread, three-pronged bread and more.
Markets are places where, in addition to getting various products, you can learn more about the culture of Arequipa. During your visit to the ‘White City’ do not miss the opportunity to meet them. In addition to the San Camilo market, you can visit: the Antiquilla market, the San Antonio market, the El Palomar market and more.
Visiting the San Camilo market is free. You can go at any time of the year, from 6 in the morning to 7:30 at night. A good option to have breakfast or lunch there. You can try some famous Peruvian dishes at a very affordable price (from 8 Peruvian soles).