What to see in Arequipa: guide to the white city of Peru

She is kissed by Sun for three hundred days a yearhas a crown of volcanoes environment. And his houses sparkle under the light as if they were magical. We are talking about Arequipathe second city of the Peru for inhabitants and one of the most fascinating (without taking anything away from Cusco, obviously). So much so that since 2001 it has been on the list ofUnesco. A fair recognition since the things to see in Arequipa they are a lot. Even if it’s the overall atmosphere that makes it special.

An atmosphere that does not seem, in some respects, even Peruvian but which reminds many of them white cities of theAndalusia. A piece of Spain in the heart of South America. This comparison arises from the fact that Arequipa is known as the “white city“, the white city. This is because in the streets and squares of its center, Frpalaces, churches and monasteries built with the sillar, the volcanic stone that recalls the tuff which, under the sunlight, whitens and gives a particular light. A light that envelops the Old Town which has some of the most beautiful churches and colonial houses of Peru which, in several cases, have been transformed into museums and galleries.

What to see in Arequipa starting from the plaza de Armas

The list of things to see in Arequipa necessarily starts from Plaza de Armasthe heart of the city, made particular by imposing porches, colonial architecture and the elegant white facade of the huge cathedral which dates back to the 17th century, although it has suffered a lot of damage from the earthquakes that have hit this area over the centuries. Nearby, it is also worth a stop Church of the Companyanother particularly beautiful church located on the nearby Calle Alvarez Thomas. However, it is the Convent of Santa Catalina which draws the biggest crowds: this is a huge complex of halls and buildingschapels, squares, fountains decorated, tight cobbled streets and beautifully decorated arches. All surrounded by high walls within which are also the colored cells where they once lived two hundred nuns, for the most part, members of the local nobility.

see in Arequipa

So it was a place closed for centuries while now you can visit. And it is a pleasure to walk through its carved doors and admire the precious religious art collection. Today, only one thirty nuns they still live in the cloister in the northern part of the complex while tourists stop in cloister of orange trees with its ceiling bluer than the sky and with splendid frescoes on the vaults. Then after the visit of the huge 17th century kitchen it is worth taking a narrow street called Calle Toledowhich touches the oldest part of the monastery and leads to outdoor laundry, where the nuns washed their clothes in large jugs filled with water from the nearby canal. In short, Santa Catalina is a true masterpiece of colonial architecture and is one of the unmissable stops on the tour of things to see in Irequipa

The Ice Maiden. A 600 year old girl

Continuing to browse the city guide, here is the other must on the list of things to see in Arequipa: the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries which is close to Plaza des Armas in a colonial house and which collects artifacts related to funerary contexts from different archaeological sites of the area. But the most famous attraction of this small museum is the 600-year-old body of a young Inca girl named Juanita. It was discovered, in near-perfect condition, on top of the Ampato volcano in 1995 and from the analyzes it was understood that it was sacrificed to the gods of the mountain and buried in a tomb with a series of funeral offerings which are also on display in the museum.

The body was encased in ice and preserved from freezing temperatures for hundreds of years along with other bodies that were found after an eruption caused the ice to melt. The Ice Maiden’s body is now on display in a refrigerated display case and DNA analysis of her has provided great insight into the culture and on living conditions of the Incas. As if they were still among us.

Discovering canyons and condors

Finally the guide of things to see in Arequipa takes us out of the city. To be precise towards the Colca Canyona natural wonder that can be reached in a few hours and which is the second deepest canyon in the world. As mentioned, it is a unique natural context but not only given that this valley, and the entire area, are the right place to discover beyond the mountains also villages such as Cabanaconde, Chivay and Yanque inhabited by the heirs of the Incas with churches, markets and llama farms. There are large protected areas such as the Reserva Salinas y Aguada Blancaan uninhabited area at high altitude where the fauna of the Andes is protected, made up of deer, vicunas, guanacos and especially condors.

To see them famous, the most famous observation point is that of the Cross of the Condors where you can admire these winged giants follow the currents along the canyon walls. To have a base a good idea may be to stop at Chivaywhich offers a good choice of accommodation, restaurants, connections and allows you to explore the area. Those who love trekking can follow the dense network of trails and also get up in bottom of the canyon, staying overnight in one of the small settlements below. Then there are many tour operators that offer day trips but also tours of several days. Remember that the trip from Arequipa to the canyon lasts approx 4 hours. But it’s hours that pass by touching volcanoes and glimpses that take you back to times when this was not the Peru. But the land of the Incas.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *