Arequipa: The White City

Touristic Places in Arequipa

Arequipa “The White City “

Arequipa is the capital of the Arequipa Region in southern Peru. With a population of around 750,000 it is the second most populous city in Peru after Lima. Arequipa lies in the Andes mountains at an altitude of 2,380 meters (7800 feet) above sea level with the snow-capped volcano Misti majestically overlooking the city.  Arequipa has many colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock, from which it gets the nickname La Ciudad Blanca (“The White City”). The historic centre of Arequipa was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000 in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity.

Founded as a colonial city, Arequipa is influenced by both Andalusian and Spanish colonial ideas and architecture. Popular and touristic sites include the 16th century Santa Catalina Monastery, the Goyeneche Palace, Casa del Moral, and the district of Yanahuara, a point of confluence for visitors seeking a view point of the urban geography of the city. Arequipa has many valuable archaeological and tourist resources including the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and an ideal spot for observing the magnificent Andean Condor.

Sights in Arequipa

Santa Catalina Monastery

Santa Catalina Monastery was founded on October 2  1580 and has an area of  20,000 square metres.  It was constructed in the second half of the 16th Century. The Convent Santa Catalina still houses nuns in cloisters in a  walled small city with narrow streets, passages, stair cases and small squares.

The Convent is a city in miniature and was closed to the public until 1970.  It combines the white colour of the sillar with other shades and tones of ochre, indigo and orange that contrast well with an otherwise austere style.

The founder of the monastery was a rich widow named Maria de Guzman. The tradition of the time indicated that the second son or daughter of high-class Spanish families would enter religious service.  Since the convent only accepted nuns at the Santa Catalina Convent each nun had between one and four servants or slaves.  The nuns invited musicians to perform in the convent, gave parties and generally lived a lavish lifestyle. Each family paid a dowry upon their daughter’s entrance to the convent.  The nun with the larger dowry paid was awarded the highest status and was honoured by wearing a black veil.  Typical the largest dowries paid  were 2,400 silver coins (or US$50,000 today). The nuns were also required to bring 25 listed items; including a statue, a painting, a lamp and clothes. The wealthiest nuns may have brought fine English china and silk curtains and rugs.  Although it was possible for poorer nuns to enter the convent without paying a dowry, it can be seen from the cells that most of the nuns were very wealthy
Monastery of Santa Catalina Arequipa Peru Travel

Misti Volcano

“El Misti” Volcano, also known as Guagua-Putina, is a stratovolcano located in southern Peru near the city of Arequipa. With its seasonally snow-capped, symmetrical cone, El Misti stands at 5,822 m above sea level and lies between the mountain Chachani (6,075 m) and the volcano Pichu Pichu (5,669 m). Its last eruption was in 1784.

El Misti has three concentric craters. In the inner crater fumarole activity can be seen. Near the inner crater six Inca mummies and rare Inca artifacts were found in 1998 during a month-long excavation directed by the archaeologists Johan Reinhard and Jose Antonio Chavez. These findings are currently stored at the Museo de Santuarios Andinos in Arequipa.

There are two main climbing routes on the volcano. The Pastores route, which is more used, as its starting point is nearer to the city of Arequipa, starts in 3,300 m. Usually a camp is made in 4,500 m at Nido de Aguilas. The second route, the Aguada Blanca route, starts at 4,000 m near the Aguada Blanca reservoir and a camp is made in 4,800 m at Monte Blanco (the name of the camp comes from the fact that it has more or less the height as the summit of Mont Blanc). Neither climbing routes presents technical difficulties but both are considered strenuous because of the steep loose sand slopes.

El Misti Volcano

The Mummy Juanita or Momia Juanita

Momia Juanita (Spanish for “Mummy Juanita”), better known in English as the “Ice Maiden,” is an Inca mummy of a girl, or more precisely, a frozen body, between 12-14 years old, who died sometime between 1440 and 1450.

She was discovered in southern Peru in 1995 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his Peruvian climbing partner Miguel Zarate. Also known as the Lady of Ampato and the Frozen Lady, Juanita was taken on tour in the United States in 1996 and in Japan in 1999 before she was returned to Peru.

The mummy Juanita was remarkably well-preserved after 500 years, making her one of the more important recent mummy finds; indeed, this discovery was chosen by Time magazine, in 1995, as one of the world’s top ten discoveries.
The Mummy Juanita or Momia Juanita

The Cathedral of Arequipa

The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa (“Basílica Catedral”, in Spanish) is located in the “Plaza de Armas” of the city of Arequipa, province of Arequipa, Peru.

It is the most important church of the city and Diocese of Arequipa since it is the base of the Archbishop and Metropolitan council. The cathedral is also considered one of Peru’s most unusual and famous colonial cathedrals since the Spanish conquest.
The Cathedral of Arequipa