Today we explore the beautiful city of Arequipa, known locally as ‘The White City’ due to its glistening white buildings built from volcanic rock. During this tour, we will visit a number of sites throughout the city including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Santa Catalina Monastery, the Main Square, the Complex of San Franscico and the Arequipa Cathedral, one of the biggest in South America.
The tour starts with a visit to the Carmen Alto viewpoint, located on the right side of the Chili River which once divided Arequipa into two parts. On both sides of the river it is possible to see the agricultural terraces from the Pre-Inca period which are still in good condition, as well as a beautiful landscape dominated by the majesty of the Misti, Chachani and Pichupichu volcanoes. We will continue on to the Spanish Colonial district of Yanahuara, a traditional neighbourhood characterised by beautiful narrow, cobblestone streets of Andalusian influence. The main square, located in the highest part of the district, houses the famous Saint John the Baptist Church (1750) distinguished by a baroque style façade. On the right stands the viewpoint, built in the XIX century, comprising bas-relief arches engraved with phrases and thoughts of renowned Arequipeños. From this viewpoint we will also have an uninterrupted view of downtown Arequipa and the Misti volcano.
From here we will return downtown and walk to the Plaza De Armas (Main Square), one of the most beautiful and stunning squares in Peru. After, we will continue to the Compañia De Jesus religious complex, complete with church and cloister. The church’s façade is one of the most archetypical representations of the baroque style in Southern Peru and inside we will spend time admiring the colonial paintings and golden altars of this impressive church. Next, we will visit the Saint Ignatius Chapel which is well-known for its sacristy and very famous polychrome cupola. And finally, we will view the cloister, built in 1738, the cloister is characterized by archways of heavy pillars fully decorated on four sides and it’s three patios.
Lastly, we will head to the Andean Sanctuaries Museum, home to the Juanita mummy. Discovered atop Ampato Mountain in 1995, in the Andes of Southern Peru, Juanita is in fact not a mummy but a frozen 12-year-old Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods in the 1450’s. We will finish the tour with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Saint Catalina Monastery – a small citadel comprising of narrow streets, squares and gardens, a rustic laundry, and cells; as well as stunning and airtight cloisters in the middle of huge walls made from ashlars.
Note: The Andean Sanctuary Museum where the Juanita mummy exhibit is located, is open for visits from Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00. On Sundays it is open from 09:00 to 14:00 and it is closed on Mondays. Santa Catalina Monastery is open for visits from Monday to Sunday, from 09:00 to 18:00 (last visitors enter at 17:00).