Arequipa Destination Guide
The historic centre of Arequipa still maintains the look of an old colonial city with many convents, churches and old houses with sturdy walls, arches, vaults, large courtyards and Baroque facades. Its three peaks Misti, Chachani and Pichupichu alongside the dramatic and beautiful country surrounding the city are the main highlights of Arequipa. But there is much more to Arequipa including a rich culture, unique customs, exquisite cuisine and the warmth and hospitality of its people, all of which will combine to make your trip to Arequipa a vivid, unforgettable experience.
It is often said that the name 'Arequipa' comes from the Quechua phrase 'Ari, quepay' which means 'yes, stay'.
Use this Arequipa Destination Guide to plan what you want to see and do during your Arequipa holiday. A perfect way to do this is by taking one or more of the Arequipa tours and activities that can be booked through our site. Each has been designed to give you the best opportunity to experience Arequipa like a local. Be sure to check out some general information about travelling in Peru in our Peru Country Guide.
Things to See & Do in Arequipa
Arequipa was declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. Arequipa is probably the city that best represents the integration of the Andean culture and the Spanish colony, evidenced by its majestic architecture adorned with a mix of Andean and Spanish elements.
Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Arequipa:
Founded on October 2, 1580, the monestery covers an area of 20,000 square metres and was built in the second half of the sixteenth century. With nuns still living within its walled citadel, a walk through its streets, walkways, stairways and small squares is like going back in time. The bright whitecolored sillar combine with other shades, such as ocher, indigo and orange to give an extraordinary sense of beauty and joy.
The Santa Catalina de Siena Monastery is one of the most important monasteries of colonial Peru and America; Maria de Guzman was the first nun in habit. In recognition of her tremendous efforts and negotiations for the opening of Santa Catalina Monastery, she appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities as Prioress.
At the front entrance we find a relief of Santa Catalina de Siena carved in the solid sillar wall. The austere simplicity of form and color of this entrance contrasts with the cheerful colors that the traveller will find within the monastery.
See more: AREQUIPA PHOTOS
The Cloister of the Oranges gets its name because of its proximity to the old orange trees. Here are also found three crosses used in an ancient tradition of the monastery, in which it represents the Passion of Christ every Viernes Santo.
The Mayor Cloister is the largest cloister of the Monastery of Santa Catalina. On the left are 5 confessionals constructed for privacy. All its walls are adorned with paintings which represented the life of Jesus.
Silence Garden, the courtyard of the monastery, was used to pray the Rosary or read the Bible in complete silence.
Zocodover Square is a space where, every Sunday, nuns share objects, tools or products that they themselves have produced.
Cordova Street is the most beautiful street of the Monastery. It is distinguished by the planters of red geraniums hanging from the windows. This type of flower is often seen in Arequipa because its red color gives joy to the white walls of sillar.
Sevilla Street contains two large arches that represent the typical architecture of Arequipa.
From Burgos Street you can see the dome of the monastery and the temple towers of the Cathedral of Arequipa.
The church has very beautiful architecture and elaborate sets. It has been rebuilt several times due to the earthquakes that struck the city of Arequipa.
The Monasterio Belfry has four openings targeting the streets around the monastery.
The kitchen draws the attention of travellers, as it is constructed with the ancient elements of its function in mind. The kitchen ran on coal, firewood and other fuels, so all the walls are blackened, and the utensils are original works of that era.
The Laundry in the courtyard houses 20 cauldrons (large earthenware pots, once used for storing grain, corn and wine) that served as troughs for washing clothes.
More information can be read here.
At the north end of the Plaza de Armas is the sacred site of the Arequipa Cathedral. Originally constructed in 1956 the Cathedral of Arequipa stood for over two centuries before arson saw the building gutted in 1844. It was then mercilessly destroyed by the earthquake of 1868. The cathedral which stands today was rebuilt shortly thereafter and still stands tall despite minor damage inflicted by the June 2001 earthquake, which toppled the left tower and partially destroyed the right tower. This damage was repaired the following year on the anniversary the cathedral's foundation.
In 1870, Belgium donated a gigantic pipe organ to the Arequipa Cathedral. The organ is said to be the largest pipe organ in South America. It is a must see when visiting the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.
The southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas is home to one of the oldest churches in Arequipa, the Jesuit Church, La Compañía. Completed in 1698, the Jesuit church boasts of many sights of note, including the elaborate and sparkling sillar stone façade, the main alter carved from cedar and the two chapels Capilla de San Ignacio and Capilla Real.
The Jesuit cloisters (claustros de La Compañía) are located beside the church. Like the church, the Jesuit Cloisters are made of sillar stone. The facade of the building is a clear example of mestizo art, with the baroque-style stone arches containing intricately carved grotesque artwork a representation of the synergy of Hispanic and native cultures. Gargoyles hold realm in the high parts of the arches spewing forth rainwater from the roof during times of rain.
Hotels near Church of the Company of Jesus Arequipa: Hotel Plaza Residence
San Agustin Church is the best architectural expression of the baroque style of the seventeenth century. Built of white sillar, this church impresses with its elaborate carvings with thick cover of Andean iconography. Its main altar is decorated with fine carvings and gold leaf applications, inside we can find several colonial paintings of the Cuzco school.
The San Francisco Church was built with stones but the inside is decorated with bricks which gives a different appeal from other churches in Arequipa.
Its colonial cloisters are part of a complex of the Franciscan order, which consists of a convent, the smaller temple of the Third Order and the Square San Francisco (meeting point for passengers).
Currently in the facilities of the complex is a market for artisans Arequipa. Within the group make sure you visit the library campus which houses over 20 thousand books, and an interesting art gallery. Because of this complex, the San Francisco Church cannot be left off the list of things to see on any Arequipa Travel Guide.
Designed by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel, the Mercado San Camilo is the perfect place to meet the real Arequipa. Travellers can find here not only a variety of gourmet ingredients that have made Peruvian food so popular worldwide, but also cultural elements that would be unimaginable in other markets around the world.
San Camilo Market is an essential part of life in Arequipa. It is not only a place to make everyday purchases, but also a meeting point between Arequipa's present day and its traditions.
For a real tour in Arequipa, remember that there's nothing like the cultural richness of the local market.
The Museo Santuarios Andinos is one of the most unique museums in Arequipa, focusing on high altitude finds and the Inca Empire. Exhibits here include mummies and the artefacts that were found in their tombs.
The main attraction is the body of the young girl known as 'Juanita' or the Ice Maiden of Mount Ampato. This pre-Columbian mummy is in the best state of preservation of any mummy in the world.
Juanita was found in September 1995 at the top of the Ampato volcano (6,288 meters), by researchers Jose Antonio Chavez, Johan Reinhard and climber Miguel Zarate.
Being surrounded by valuable gold and silver offerings, the researchers concluded that Juanita, a girl between twelve and fourteen, must have been sacrificed in honour of the snowy Ampato. According to Andean world view such, human sacrifices were offerings that were given to the Apus for deliverance from some natural evil.
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Casa del Moral Museum
The Casa del Moral Museum owes its name to the emblematic presence of a centennial mulberry tree which stands in the large house. Adorned with carved sillar figures, the Casa del Moral Museum is one of the most well preserved samples of baroque-mestizo civil architecture in Arequipa.
Alliance Francaise Art Gallery
An old restored colonial mansion in which photographic exhibitions and modern art are displayed. Located on Calle Santa Catalina 208, Arequipa.
The suburb of Yanahuara offers one of the most picture perfect panoramic views of Arequipa from the Mirador of Yanahuara. Built in the nineteenth century, it is shaped by a series of thick ashlar arches where famous citizens of Arequipa have inscribed their thoughts reflecting the character and personality of the town. From the Viewpoint of Yanahuara travellers have a privileged view of the entire city and its towering volcano of Misti and the mountains of Chachani and Pichupichu.
Hotels near Viewpoint Yanahuara: Hotel La Maison DElise , Hostel Piruwasi , Hotel Natura Inn
The Colca Canyon is second deepest canyon in the world, only surpassed by the Cotahuasi Canyon , which is also located near Arequipa. It has a depth of 3200 meters. Trekking in the Colca Canyon is an extraordinary adventure. The trek starts in the town of Cabanaconde. Afterwhich, there will be a descent to the depths of the canyon known as the Colca Oasis. This place has a unique climate and is full of plants since it is protected from cold weather by the extreme depth of Colca Canyon .
The Colca Valley is located in the province of Caylloma, 160 kilometers from Arequipa. Along this beautiful valley are 13 Andean villages, each with a picturesque church. The Colca Valley residents are mainly engaged in agriculture and their land is composed of Andenes Incas (terraces) to effectively take advantage of the water sources. In the valley guests can observe the cultures of the Colca Canyon or the majestic flight of the condor, which are certainly experiences not to miss on our Colca Canyon Exclusive Tour
This area was appointed by the famous writer Mario Vargas Llosa as the 'Valley of Marvels' for its terraces, volcanoes and picturesque old villages and amazing condor.
Mill of Sabandia
An old stone mill wheel that was used to make flour for wheat and maize is in the traditional village of Sabandia in the countryside of Arequipa. The design still retains the exact form it had during the time of the colony. Travellers are impressed by its solid walls, rustic balconies and green gardens.
The Founder's Mansion is one of the construction features of Arequipa. The ballroom still retains features of colonial times.
The rural areas surrounding the city are stunningly beautiful and there are some places where the countryside can be found in the city. This makes Arequipa is an extraordinary city that is a blend of urban and rural areas. It would be a shame to miss the pristine countryside of Arequipa on our Arequipa Bike Tour
This is one of the districts of the Arequipa province. The people of the countryside of Arequipa are famous for their willow and eucalyptus forests. There is great culture here in the agricultural, the people, the traditional fiestas and the rich local food.
This is a typical village of Arequipa, known for its beautiful Andenes (agricultural terraces designed by the Incas) and is the best place to see the scenic countryside that Arequipa offers.
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