PE, Arequipa: The colours of ‘The White City ‘

How to Peru in 2 weeks – Day #14, April 2019: Arequipa – Plaza del Armas – Basilica Cathedral – Plaza Yanahuara – Convent of Santa Catalina

 I was still day dreaming when we arrived in Arequipa, as a piece of my heart was left behind, floating in the foggy morning along the Colca Canyon.

I suddenly noticed the bustle of a big city; many buses, a tumult of people going everywhere, cars, and adds all over the places. It was the industrial area of Arequipa, and the guide told us that this specific area is used mainly by people coming from the highlands, therefore the similar outfits we’ve seen along our 2-days trip.

Arequipa, Bolognesi Bridge
Arequipa, Bolognesi Bridge

A modern city, with large streets, Arequipa looked totally different than any other city we visited in Peru.

Arequipa, Basilica Cathedral
Arequipa, Basilica Cathedral

Located at an average altitude of 2325 m in the Southwest part of the Andean Mountains and the most prominent volcanic cone Misti, Arequipa is the second most populated city after Lima.

Arequipa, Volcano Misti seen from Plaza Yanahuara
Arequipa, Volcano Misti seen from Plaza Yanahuara

The city was founded in 1540, in the name of Francis Pizzaro, the founder of Lima.

Arequipa, Plaza Yanahuara
Arequipa, Plaza Yanahuara

 

This beautiful city is built almost completely out of sillar, a white volcanic stone. This is why Arequipa is called La Ciudad Blanco / the White City. And the reason we found it so different, I guess.

 

 

 

The combination of influences can be seen by the city’s robust walls, arches, vaults, courtyards, along with some of the intricate facades, reason the Historical Centre of the city of Arequipa became UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Arequipa, Plaza de Armas
Arequipa, Plaza de Armas, Basilica Cathedral
Arequipa, Plaza de Armas colonial style
Arequipa, Plaza de Armas

An excellent combination of colonial masters and native masons created a unique personality and a distinctive character of this city.

Arequipa, Iglesia Santo Domingo
Arequipa, Iglesia Santo Domingo

Even though the metal bars are still visible on every window from the ground level (and not only), the lack of crushed glass, electrified wires atop the fences, or the bodyguards guarding expensive cars or houses we’ve seen in Lima, gave us an easy feeling walking on the streets.

Arequipa buildings
Arequipa buildings

 

Arequipa’s architecture can be easily observed in Saint Catherine’s Convent, as the constructions and additions done from the time of its founding by the Spaniards until the end of 19th century varies from the original archaic style to a combination of architectural styles. Each seismic event during this time had its own contribution for sure.

 

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Mummy Juanita, known are Lady of Ampato was an interesting discovering for us in Arequipa; as well as an interesting one for humanity, back in 1995. Found on Mount Ampato, the mummy became very famous as the body and the garments were well-preserved by the freezing conditions on the mountain top, instead of being artificially mummified. Juanita was killed as a practice of children sacrifice to appease Inca Gods. Selected from young ages, children were considered pure beings and specially trained to be sacrificed to the Gods, and make them favouring the human race, specifically the Incas.

Juanita
This is a reproduction of the mummy ‘Juanita’ we’ve seen in Musei Universidad catolica de Santa Maria in Yanque, while the original body is found in Museo Santuarios Andinos, in Arequipa, where we were not allowed to make any photo, unfortunately.

If you feel like seeing a more colourful side of the city, beside the antique shops, galleries, or boutiques, do not miss a market place.

Arequipa, Mercado San Camilo
Arequipa, Mercado San Camilo

prickly pears

Tip(s) of the day:

* Walking around is always the best way to see the details in a city, but Arequipa can be quite large. Negotiate the tariff with a taxi driver before getting in the car.

*If you’re visiting the Convent of Santa Catalina, you will be pushed to hire a guide – but that is optional. Some of them may hurry you around, or heading you to certain areas only.

*We’ve had to be part of a guide tour in Museo Santuarios Andinos; English, French, or Spanish, and tipping was kind of mandatory at the end, beside the cost of the ticket. We could not have this tour on our own, not an option.

*If I would start our two-week trip in Peru again, I would probably get acclimatized in Arequipa for a couple of days, before heading to the Canyon, Lake Titicaca, or Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu.

Camelids living in Peru
Camelids living in Peru

~ visited in April 2019

8 thoughts on “PE, Arequipa: The colours of ‘The White City ‘

    1. Hehe, I missed it only in my post. So unfortunate one can’t take photos in the museum. But we were lucky to take photos of a replica of Juanita right when we were in Yanque, in their local museum.

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