History and Arequipa's geography
The Misti volcano may be dormant, but Arequipa wakens every morning amidst a flurry of activity. And although the summit of the volcano is often wreathed by small clouds of smoke, the Arequipa townsfolk -proud of their land- do not fail to invite visitors to stroll through the streets of white stone and traditional squares. The lordly city of Arequipa owes the characteristic hue of its houses and other constructions to the white sillar stone quarried in the region.
Founded as the Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de Asunta (the Beautiful Villa of Our Lady of Asunta), Arequipa was recognized as a city in 1541. Throughout its history, Arequipa has also been the cradle of leading thinkers and politicians. Today, the visitor can take in the spectacular neo-Renaissance Cathedral, the impressive Santa Catalina Convent, colonial mansions and museums, all of which are reason enough to visit Arequipa.
On the outskirts of the city one can find many other attractions. The Colca Valley is without a doubt the best-known both in Peru and abroad. Just four hours northeast of the city, the Colca boasts some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Peru: superb terracing, snow-capped peaks, dizzying canyons and towns dating back to the sixteenth century. There are 14 villages that have been preserved in the valley since those early colonial times, which the Spaniards used to settle the ancient Collagua and Cabana tribes, who had previously been scattered around the region. The visitor to the Colca Valley will surely be fascinated by the narrow streets and richly decorated churches. The Colca is also a haven for adventure sports fans.
Other sites include the ancient Toro Muerto rock paintings, the Imata natural stone formations and the Cotahuasi Canyon, believed to be the world's deepest. But what truly unites the different parts of Arequipa is without a doubt its exquisite cuisine. Visitors should not fail to try the local rocoto relleno (stuffed hot chili pepper), adobo (marinated roast beef) and the spicy chupe stews, which are simply irresistible
Central point and nucleous of the urban life around which the city has developed. It is large and square, with a noticeable inclination. It is recognized for the symmetric harmony of its architecture, and surrounded by the Cathedral and three sides with double arches, which form porticoes of carved "sillar" and granite, and vaults made of brick.
Neoclassical style an with imposing facade that occupies all the Northern front, with 70 columns and three porticoes, made of sillar covered with Gothic brick vaults. Over it, two stylized towers soar. Its construction started in 1621 nd took eight years. It was destroyed by a fire in 1844 and was restored. There are relics of great value kept inside: the main altar made of Carrara marble (Italy), the stalls about the choir and a great organ purchased in Europe in the XIX century.
Complex of Jesus
Of impressive conventual aspect, it is the only edifice, which conserves the colonial art from its bases. It consists of two cloisters with portal led corridors made of carved sillar and Jesuitics monograms in the upper part. It is the purest sample of the mestizo Arequipa style.
San Francisco Church
The Church, the Convent, and the Square of San Francisco constitute a beautiful sample of architecture in the center of Arequipa. The very small square has an atmosphere of stillness and rest. The temple has only one vaulted aisle and a sanctuary with a cupola; the combination of sillar and brick gives a beautiful aspect, with a very nice stone choir. It possesses a library with volumes books and a complete Picture Gallery.
Santa Catalina Monastery
Santa Catalina was built in Arequipa, the city that was founded in 1540 in a place specially chosen for its natural beauty and good climate, and with a unique construction material: sillar, a porous stone from volcanic lava used to built a nice city with our own architectural designs, with spaces and proportions of great esthetic value, and also to have carvings on imposing fronts with fine decorative details, making of Arequipa a colonial center of marked identity, within the main urban centers of the continent. Its architectonic style is mainly colonial, but of a mestizo nature. Different from other colonial heritages in this part of Latin America, in Santa Catalina specially, the fusion of Spanish and native elements can be observed to the point of generating it own creativity.
The recurrent earthquakes affecting Arequipa since 1582 destroyed the older constructions and also the properties of the relatives of the nuns of Santa Catalina over whom the income that guaranteed the future economy and life of the Monastery was dependent. This was the reason and origin for building the citadel whiting the monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena in Arequipa. The relatives of the nuns decided to built private cells for them, because the common dormitory was damaged and was also too small for the increasing number of nuns. For almost two centuries during the viceroyalty, the cloisters and cells of Santa Catalina have underwent modifications, additions and new constructions. All of these have made of it a sample of the colonial architecture of Arequipa.
Church and Convent of Recoleta
In the simple and austere cloisters covered with tiled roofs, many valuable testimonies of different epochs can be found. Within these cloisters, one of the most important religious libraries of Peru is found, where valuable books printed in the XV century are kept.
Temple of Saint Augustine
It reminds of the Mexican Churches; the sacristy is formed by and octogonal room. The facade shows the splendor of the mestizo architecture of the XVI and XVII centuries and it is adorned with very stylized flowers and leaves, being an example of the Arequipa ornamental art.
The Jesuit Temple
The impressive temple of the Company of Jesus was built between 1610 and 1698 and constitutes the most beautiful and complete colonial edifice of the city. Its intricate stands out among the other churches. Its style is plateresque, throughout all the church colorful and stylized profuse ornamentation is displayed. The temple is in the shape of a Latin cross, with a main aisle and two lateral ones, a high choir and a beautiful pulpit from the XVII century.
The Mulberry Tree House
Named after a very old mulberry tree that is found within. It was built in the XVII century and its most interesting architecture shows on its front heraldic emblems carved in sillar. The sillar vaults of the large rooms are also carved, as well as the doors and windows. The interior decoration is a magnificent sample of Spanish art, giving unity to the residence with very luxurious rooms and old furniture.
Tristan del Pozo House
Its facade is one of the best architectural jewels of Peru and in Arequipa it represents the best achieved expression of the colonial civil architecture. There are three windows on the front and a Jesuitic monogram carved in sillar is found in the upper part of the gate.
The Founder´s Mansion
It is surrounded by lovely countryside and tradition links it with the half-bred son of the founder. With ample terraces, it is a building with a special natural charm. It has a little chapel.
Church and Square of Yanahuara
One of the most representatives colonial churches of the city, dated on 1750, it was built with sillar, showing us a barrocal facade and sober inner places. Located in the main square of the legendary district of Yanahuara, a picturesque village with narrow passages and old houses with small orchards. It also have a mirador with arches in sillar that commands a partial view of the city.
Museums of Arequipa
Something we are bound to save and publish in our rich and valuable ethnic, religious and cultural past. At present, there are in Arequipa several museums, among them: The Recoleta Museum with two rooms for pre-columbine art, an amazonic and ethnographic museum, a museum religious art, a picture gallery, and a library with over 20 thousand books, printed since XV century.
The Lady of Ampato
It is believed that during the domain of Tahuantinsuyo the area was scarcely populated by some Inca nobility about whom there was no clear knowledge till 1986 when a striking discovery on top of the Ampato volcano took place, as the body of a young Inca lady in a perfect state of preservation was found. This invaluable archeological and anthropological testimony, admired the world over, tells us about the life of the Inca inhabitants in this region.
The Jose Maria Monzante Archeological Museum, at the San Agustin National University
which houses more than 8 thousand archeological pieces from the litic period and of Chavin, Paracas, Nazca, Mochica, Tiahuanaco, Wari and Inca cultures.
The environs of Arequipa
On arriving in Arequipa, it is surprising to see the city surrounded by its three volcanoes, and impressive view indeed, centered by Misti, flanked by Chachani and Pichu Pichu. Nowadays, they are inactive, but long ago when they erupted, the volcanic lava became prettified originating "Sillar", a white porous stone, the prime element for the ancient constructions of the city and nowadays is a characteristic element of expression of art and architecture.
It is a National Reserve, formed by extense plains, created to protect the natural species of the region, especially thousands of vicuñas.
The Colca Canyon
A place tourists should not miss, it considered the second deepest canyon in the world (3400 mts. deep). The small town of Chivay welcomes tourists to the imponent canyon.This town still keeps the cultural characteristics, customs and traditions of its ancient origin, imposing as well as its colorful costumes. If you prefer, you may visit the mountain tops to see the Condor, master of the hights. For those who like adventure, it is tempting to meet the wild waters of the Colca river and navigate its rapids in an exciting ride
Amazon River born in Arequipa
The Amazon River has its source in Arequipa, in the snow-capped heights of the Mismi, and precisely because its true place of origin has been determined to be on the Mismi, it can now be stated that the Amazon is longer than the Nile (6,700 km) and is, in fact, the longest river in the world, flowing for 7,872 km. This fact has been confirmed recently by National Geographic experts, who followed the whole course of the river to where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon has four contributing rivers on the Mismi: the Carhuasanta, Apacheta, Caccansa and Sillanque.
Arequipa, next to the Andes and the Volcanic range, is good for practicing mountain climbing and trekking. Many places can be chosen, but one of the most attractive ones is the climb up Misti, whose 5825 mts. pick represents a great challenge. Another ideal snow capped mountain to climb is Ampato, with its innumerable hidden mysteries. Important archeological discoveries were made there; especially that of the Ice Maiden, an Inca princess, evidencing this was an Inca sanctuary.
One of the adventure sports that Arequipa offers its visitors is rafting which can be practiced in several places, like the Majes Valley, the Colca or the Cotahuasi Canyons. With rapids between 4 and 5 degrees of difficulty, the riskier ones must be left ant the end for the experts.
PROVINCE OF CAYLLOMA
Chivay (3,650 meters / 160 km from Arequipa)
The main town in the area. Its church, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, features a seventeenth-century Baroque altarpiece, a sixteenth-century guilt tabernacle and a series of murals depicting the baptism of Christ and the apostles painted between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Yanque (3,580 meters / 10 km from Chivay)
This town was the base of the Franciscan missionaries who settled in the area. The church, Inmaculada Concepcion, is a unique local Baroque-style construction. The church features an imposing façade, a series of neoclassical painted altarpieces and a sixteenth-century silver cross borne aloft in processions.
Achoma (3,680 meters / 18 km west of Chivay)
The town church, built in the late eighteenth century, features rococo decorations in its chapels and along its columns. Inside the church are murals, a neoclassical altarpiece and a pulpit dating back to the eighteenth century, plus dozens of statues.
Maca (3,400 meters / 23 km west of Chivay)
The town, built on the slopes of the Sabancaya volcano and Mount Hualca-Hualca, features a striking church dedicated to Santa Ana, with a façade decorated with arches and sacred imagery. The church still houses guilt Baroque altars, the tabernacle and the image of the crucified Christ carved in the sixteenth century.
Pinchollo (3,390 meters / 27 km from Chivay)
The town, famous for its miniature altarpieces, features a church dedicated to San Sebastian, where one can find interesting Renaissance and Baroque altars as web as a skillfully decorated doorway that resembles a giant altarpiece.
Cabanoconde (3,200 meters / 65 km from Chivay)
The town, which marks the start of the Cabana lands, is home to the church of San Pedro Alcantara, an imposing wooden construction built in the eighteenth century with two bell towers decorated with haut-relief images of the sun, the moon and the stars. It stands out for its neoclassical doorways and the Inca-inspired atrium wall. Inside the church one can find a series of images of Christ crucified and the crowning of the Virgin, typical of the eighteenth century.
Coporaque (3,700 meters / 8 km west of Chivay)
Its church, Santiago Apostol, is the oldest in the valley, with a sixteenth-century Italian-design façade. The church guards important religious treasures such as silver relics and chasubles. The church also conserves remains of its primitive main altar and fine images dating back to the sixteenth century, depicting the crowning of the Virgin, the Señora Candelaria, Santa Ursula, La Dolorosa and San Antonio Abad.
Ichupampa (3,710 meters / 19 km west of Chivay).
Its church dates back to the late eighteenth century, with an interesting façade, plus sculptures of San Francisco and Santa Rosa de Lima. Lari (3,390 meters / 27 km west of Chivay). The town church, Purisima Concepcion, is the largest in the valley and was built in the mid-eighteenth century. Inside one can find a set of painted altars, a magnificent pulpit and a statue of the Immaculate Conception.
Madrigal (3,200 meters / 50 km west of Chivay).
Its church, Santiago de Madrigal, is one of the oldest in the valley, having been built in the last 30 years of the sixteenth century.
PROVINCE OF ISLAY
Santuary of Mejia Lagoons
Created to protect the natural habitat of the regional fauna, it is one of the most important stations for migratory birds in the Peruvian Coast.
PROVINCE OF CASTILLA
The Toro Muerto Petroglyphs
A magic religious center since the Quaternary era. Due to the petroglyphs found in this region it is considered as an important testimony of the existence of primitive men there.
Valley of the Volcanoes
It is an impressive National Sanctuary which consists of a valley and more than fifty small volcanoes of different sizes, all of them formed during the Quaternary Era, offering a beautiful natural landscape.
PROVINCE OF LA UNIÓN
The Cotahuasi Canyon
Located 400 km. due North-west of Arequipa at the Union Province, the imposing Cotahuasi Canyon, is the deepest in the world. It is called the "Marvel Canyon", enclosing the gigantic quarry of Sipia, the Uscune and Allancay waterfalls, the hot springs, the water mirrors, an imposing sight of cultivated terraces and a privileged climate. Besides, the picturesque settlement can be seen, which maintains its ancient costumes, housing all the riches left for generations.
The Cotahuasi Valley is surrounded by picturesque villages featuring colonial churches, most of which have kept their traditional characteristics. Archaeological attractions range from cave paintings dating back thousands of years to superbly-made Inca roads and constructions.
The cultural identity of rural communities in particular represents a unique attraction for visitors. Travelers can take in a variety of folk music and arts and crafts, in addition to delicious local wines. The Cotahuasi Valley is also famous for its woven carpets, an example of which is the 200 square-meter carpet which has been on display in the Presidential Palace since 1924.
PROVINCE OF CARAVELÍ
Archaeological rest of Broken of the Waca or Puerto Inca
At 417 km to the northwest of the city of Arequipa (6 hours 30 minutes in car), it is arrived until the creek of Chala, to the height of the deflection in km 615 of the South Pan-American Highway, and thence 7 km to the north are crossed. Archaeological complex that emphasizes by its long occupation, because it presents/displays rest which they date from the preceramic one until centuries XIV and XV, indicating the presence Inca. Some archaeologists and historians consider that from this place partia one of but the important ways Inca who, after entering ayacuchano territory, arrived at the Cusco.
PROVINCE OF CAMANÁ
To 173 km to the South west of the city of Arequipa (2 hours and 30 minutes in car). Western center of the Arequipa Region is located in the part. During the pre-Hispanic time, cultures like the Nasca, Paracas, Waris, Collaguas, Chuquibambas and Incas were developed in this cosy valley. On 1539 I am based the city of Camana with the name of “Villa Hermosa de Camana”.
Circuit of Beaches
They are located between 10 km and 40 km of the city of Camana (of 5 to 20 minutes in car) the place emphasize by their beautiful beaches extended throughout the Pacific Ocean such as: the End, Hillocks, the Spurt, the Caves, Quilca, the Honey, Arantas, Honoratos, the Playuela, etc. Some of their beaches are very concurred by fans to the fishing and the sports of adventure.
Archaeological museum Jose Maria Quimper - the Thistle
10 thousand years of history through innumerable objects visualize between which rest of the cultures Nasca, Paracas, Wari, Chuquibamba, Collagua and Inca are appraised.
Lagoons of Pucchun
A variety of species of wild birds, ducks is appraised, you hit, gallinetas, gansos, flamenco and others.
To 33 km of the city of Camana (30 minutes in car). First port of the south of well-known Peru for being the place where Admiral Miguel Grau, hero of the War of the Pacific, I deceive to the Chilean square to the control of the Huascar Monitor. Ideal for practices of anti-submarine ship and ecoturismo.
Ways used in pre-Hispanic times. At the moment they are crossed on foot, in bicycles or horses.
The Viewpoint of Inca
Located in the right margin of the river Camana in km 826 of the South Pan-American Highway, from where it is observed the countryside and the opening from the river the Pacific Ocean.