Welcome to Arequipa, ‘the white city’ and Peru’s second largest, located far in the south of the country.
This lush city is known for it’s distinctively coloured architecture, mountanous views and for giving tourists their first bout of altitude sickness. But, hopefully not too bad, as the city sits 2,335 metres above sea level, making it a great place to acclimatise before heading to Colca Canyon and Cusco.
The Old Town
The Old Town is considered one of the most beautiful parts of Peru. Most of these buildings are from the 19th century, with a large portion of the city being destroyed by the 1868 earthquake. What’s left shows you why it’s known as the white city, and despite being the second largest city, it’s a far cry from the hussle of Lima.
All of the pictures above are of the Plaza De Armas of Arequipa, the heart of the Old Town, and a really great place to get over a wild bout of travel sickness from an overnight bus that takes you through the Andes. These buses are a good way to get around but they’re also hell. The nausea from it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Truly, truly awful, but that’s what happens when you’re twisting and turning through mountains for a whole night.
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa, as seen above, the cathedral is considered a rather unusual and famous colonial cathedrals since the Spanish conquest. It’s a little terrifying, but totally gorgeous, as most of the architecture in Arequipa’s Old Town is.
Museo Santuarios Andinos
Arequipa boasts a lot of colours, especially down the side streets, in tucked away monasteries and at the Museo Santuarios Andinos (the red wall above). This museum dives into the history of Peru, namely into child sacrifice and the Mummy Juanita. Take a look into her if you wish, her body was found atop Mount Ampato in 1995. She’s one of the most well preserved mummies in history, having been naturally mummified by her icy surroundings. Mummified to the point that we know what this child ate hours before her death back in around 1465.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
The Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena dates back to 1579. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, this served as a large home for Dominican nuns, today it is still home to a small religious community. It’s a massive and beautiful labrynth, with pops of deep reds and bright blues all over the 20,000 square metre complex.
The Convent was founded by a rich widow, Maria de Guzman. At the time, it was known that the second son or daughter of a family would enter a life og service to the church, via dowries of admission, and items brought in by the children of upper class Spanish families, the monastery became a museum like place of artifacts and art.
Sadly the monastery is slowly deteriorating due to it being constricted of volcanic sillar stone, and air pollution’s effect on it. Various areas have also been damaged to earthquakes in the twentieth century, as well as one in 2001. However, it’s still a sight to behold and is well worth a visit.
Views of the Andes
Due to Arequipa being nestled in the Andes, Arequipa boasts lush views of the surrounding Chachani Volcanic Zone. I’m gonna spam you with a whole bunch of photos of this below, but the best I can suggest is heading out at golden hour to take a walk, find the best viewing spots and take a few photographs.
Let me know if you find yourself in Arequipa, I only spent 24 or so hours in here in total but got to take in a lot of the city, and a few too many pisco sours.
Mirador De Los Andes + Chivay
A bonus little gallery of roads through the Andes and the small town of Chivay!
Always make sure to get an awkward shot with an erupting volcano.
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