Check out our adventure in Peru and discover all the top things you can not miss in Arequipa
"Learning never exhausts the mind". Leonardo da Vinci
Despite Arequipa is the second largest city of Perù counting almost 1 million of inhabitants, its historical centre keeps the same charme of a traditional village. The perfect integration of European and native building techniques and the scenic geographical position at the foot of 3 volcanoes are not the only reasons to justify its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List: add also othe biggest cathedral of Perù, an impressive monastery and several delicious traditional restaurants.
Good news: planning a visit here it is really easy and it is absolutely a must for all the people traveling across Perù especially before moving to the Colca Canyon region.
A good way to kick off your visit is to spend half an hour enjoying the unrivalled view of the city from the Yanahuara viewpoint.
The name Arequipa might be linked to the old aymara terms "ari" (meaning "pick") and "quipa" (meaning "placed behind"); actually the city rises right behind the slopes of El Misti volcan, dominating the landscape and influencing the habits of the place since the beginning of time: here most of the building have been built using the"sillar"(a volcanic rock extracted in the area) to resist to the frequent heartquakes which have shaked the city several times.
Most of the attractions of the city are at walking distance therefore it could be a goood idea to book an hotel close to the Plaza de Armas and enjoy a pleasant walk across the city. Our choice was the lovely Santa Rosa Hotel (http://www.hotelsantarosa-aqp.com/en), a 18th century building with nice and clean rooms and a strategic position for the visit of the centre.
One of the top attractions of the city is certainly the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a sort of city inside the city founded on 1579 where (rich) women joined to become seclusion nuns.
Once passed under the "Silence" arch (a clear remind to the novitiates of the complex who were required to respect the silence vows during the 4 years lenght of the seclusion) it is possible to visit the cells of the Novice Cloister and from here to move to the Orange Cloister, the area dedicated to the nuns once they passed their novitiate and characterized by an intense blue clolor.
The visit continues covering Cordoba St.,Toledo St., Burgos St. and Granada St. and their various rooms to end in the Great Cloister. Colors are amazing and we spend a full morning to enjoy the visit and to take shots of the details of the room, of the furniture and the architectures.
Practical info for your visit:
Booking in advance it is not required and you can get your tickets directly at the ticket office at the enter
Because its dimensions (approx. 20.000 square meters), the variety of buildings which can be visited and the interesting anectodes on the life in the complex, we suggest you to consider a guided tour
Consider at least 2-3 hours for the visit
Remember that this is the most visited place in the city and it can be very crowdy, therefore it is a good idea to kick off your day with this visit, postponing the exploration of the other places
Check out the opening time: sometime the site allows the visit by night; it could be a good opportunity to take amazing shots and feel the spirituality of the place at candle light.
Five minutes far from the Monasterio, walking along Santa Catalina street, it is possible to reach the vibrant hearth of the city: Plaza de Armas. White arcades stands on three sides of the place creating a charming frame to the square, while the fourth side is occupied by the majestic Cathedral, the biggest of Perù.
The alleys around Plaza de Armas are full of nice traditional shops, places for a quick lunch and some gourmant restaurants where it is possible to appreciate the gastronomic specialties of Perù. We tried the famous restaurant of the chef Gaston Asturio, Chicha (menù and info at https://www.chicha.com.pe/en/arequipa), a perfect mix of tradition and experimentation where we ate a tasty Bife de Alpaca and the unavoidable Cuy Chactado.. absolutely to try!
Absolutely not to miss is the visit of another little church standing on the South-East corner of the square, the Iglesia de la Compania. The facade is a masterpiece of the churrigueresco style with elaborated inlays in the white rock but even more beutiful is the San Ignacio Chapel inside, where a room is entirely decorated with a fresco representing flowers, fruits and tropical birds; a perfect example of the religious syncretism of the local workforce who realized this unique piece.
To discover more about these place, have a look to our posts and stories dedicated to Peru dated August/September 2019 on our Instagram page @2intour
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