Arequipa city is located by one side of the Misti Volcano on the Andes Mountain Range. Arequipa (2.350 meters above sea level), is the capital of the department of Arequipa. The big old buildings, the temples, convents and monasteries are built with a volcanic lava material called « sillar ». Sillar has a white pearly color that the sun rays illuminate, which is the main reason why Arequipa is called «the White City».
The buildings in the Historic Center of Arequipa have an original architectural style. The Italian Baroque style, the Spanish Plateresque style and the Andean originality were mixed. The Historic Center of Arequipa is surrounded by a magical countryside and fascinating villages where we can still see pre-Inca agricultural terraces or « andenes » that are still used by the farmers of the villages of Chilina, Socabaya, Paucarpata, Characato and Sabandia.
In the department of Arequipa, we can find two of the deepest canyons of the world: The Colca Canyon (located in the province of Caylloma) and the Cotahuasi Canyon (located in the province of La Union). We can also find the fascinating Valley of Volcanoes located in Andahua and the beautiful Mollendo, Camana and Puerto Inca beaches.
The Colca Valley is in Arequipa, three hours by car from the capital. It is one of the region’s main tourist destinations because we can find one of the deepest canyons of the world there, along with beautiful landscapes, fauna and a living culture we can still admire.
Arequipa stands out from other cities since it was the seat of civil, popular and democratic rebellions. It has also been the birthplace of the country’s prominent intellectual, political and religious characters.
Not long before the Inca expansion, some nomad groups developed in Arequipa. These groups carried out activities such as hunting, fishing, collection of fruits and domestication of animals.
At the end of the 7th century, Inca Mayta Capac and his army stopped in an uninhabited valley which he called Ari-quepay that means “let’s stay here”. He distributed the land to about three thousand families establishing towns such as Yanahuara, Cayma, Tiabaya, Socabaya, Chiguata, Paucarpata, among others.
One of the greatest discoveries in the zone is the Mummy Juanita that was found in the Ampato volcano`s crater in 1995. The mummy arose great interest in scientists around the world due to the excellent state of conservation in which it was found. It is currently displayed in the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries (Museo de Santuarios Andinos) in the city.
Arequipa is located south of the country, it shares border at the northeast with Ica, at the north with Ayacucho, Apurimac and Cusco, at the east with Puno, at the southeast with Moquegua and at the west with the Pacific Ocean.
It has an area of 63,345 km2 and a population of 1,382,730 inhabitants. The department’s coast is 538 km long and it’s one of the driest parts of the coast desert. Meanwhile, the Andean region has steep valleys and canyons.
The capital, that has the same name, is located on a valley surrounded by three volcanos: Misti, Chachani and Picchu Picchu.
We can find one of the world’s deepest canyons in Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, that is located east of the city, after the Salinas, Aguada Blanca and Pampa Cañahuas reserves.
Arequipa is considered the second most important city of Peru.
Because of its architecture and countryside, its landscapes are impressive. Here are some of the attractions you should not miss:
If you have more time, we recommend these destinations out of town:
Continue your trip towards Puno to visit the highest navigable lake in the world: Lake Titicaca and Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire.
The city’s most important date is during August, its anniversary month. The main date is August 15th.
Different activities such as concerts, dances, artisan fairs, parades, and more are carried out throughout the month. The calendar of these activities is published a few days earlier, so if you are in Arequipa in August, check the options you have so you don’t miss them.
Peru is a country that has a very strong religious tradition so there are several festivities throughout the year such as the Virgin of Candelaria (Virgen de la Candelaria) during the first days of February and the Virgin of Chapi (Virgen de Chapi) the first days of May (Chapi is a town located an hour away from the city).
The famous “picanterías” stand out in Arequipa. These are typical restaurants from the past. There, we can find dishes made of cheese, milk and shrimp from the Majes Valley. The best-known dish in Arequipa is the rocoto relleno. The rocoto is a spicy fruit that is stuffed with meat and it is served with potato and cheese.
Other dishes you should try are the ocopa arequipeña, solterito de queso, chupe de camarones and adobo arequipeño (dish made of pork’s meat and chicha de jora). The city’s signature dessert is the queso helado prepared with milk, coconut and cinnamon.
You can try alpaca and trout prepared in several dishes in the Colca Valley
You can drink chicha de jora, a beverage made of fermented corn, and a shot of anisado as a digestive.
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