Arequipa

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Welcome to Arequipa!

Welcome to Arequipa!

The “Ciudad Blanca” is built out of a white rock called “sillar”, which is collected from the volcanoes that are situated close to the city. Arequipa was declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site mainly because of its special cultural significance. This is Peru’s second largest city, located in the southwestern part of the country, with a population of over 800,000 people and it is well-known to be considered the most beautiful city in the country. This magical area is just the result of its people’s resistance against natural processes and the ability of cultures to overcome crises. Crowned by three snow-covered volcanoes and the Pre-Hispanic agricultural landscapes in the countryside, Arequipa is located on the tectonic fracture of the Earth’s shell termed “Ring of Fire” – known for its high frequency of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

The quality of Arequipa’s architecture is not defined just by its religious, divine monuments, but by the abundance of characteristic well-proportioned houses named “casonas”, which more than 500 can be found in the heart of the city. Doorways and windows are bounded with columns and crowned with pediments that blend with great walls. Casonas ensure the harmony and integrity of the townscape and give the town a notable urban value. Untouched examples that have remained since the 17th century, the pre-existent indigenous populations, the Spanish conquest and the evangelization, and the panoramic natural environment – among others -, are all main determinants in the definition of Arequipa’s identity. Volcanic cones such as “El Misti”, “Chachani”, and “Pichu Pichu” are situated around 20km of the center of the city of Arequipa, and no matter in what town area you are, you can still see them openly.

The historical center of the city is home to numerous religious monasteries, Catholic churches, and museums. After Peru gained its independence (from Spain), Arequipa was the capital city of Peru for almost 50 years.

Churches maintain their religious use, such as San Agustín, La Merced, the church of Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, and Santa Rosa, and Puente Grau. Monastery Santa Catalina is a spectacular citadel, blending architectural styles from the 16th to 19th centuries. The Santo Domingo “convento” dates from the 16th to 18th centuries. Nevertheless, Arequipa’s central square is guaranteed to impress – Plaza de Armas, the perfect example of a building made out of white volcano stone. At one corner of the plaza, there are the church and cloisters of La Compañia, the most representative ensemble of the Baroque period at the end of the 18th century. Furthermore, there is Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa, the most important neoclassical example in Peru. And last but not least, Church of the Company, one of the most splendid creations of Peruvian Baroque.

Through the High Andes, one of the main attraction in the Arequipa area is the charming Colca Valley, an area of incredible beauty. Colca Canyon is one the second deepest in the world, reaching a depth of 4,160 meters (13,648 ft) and it is home to the famous Andean Condor birds. It includes examples of Inca agricultural landscapes and watering systems, hot springs at La Calera as well as a range of activities from adventure sports to tourist homestays. Nevertheless, the landscape is volcanic. Canyons depth can be appreciated from a viewpoint where Andean Condors can be seen most days throughout the year. Animals that are found include herds of vicuñas, and a variety of birds: giant hummingbird, eagles, Andean geese, flamingos, and the mighty Andean Condor, which can usually be located at “Cruz del Condor.”

The Andean condor is a South American bird. Found in the Andes mountains, the Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world since it has a maximum wingspan of 3.3 meters (10,80 ft). The Andean condor is a symbol of the indigenous Andean religions, as well as a national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. It plays an important role in the mythicism of the South American Andean regions and has been interpreted in the Andean art from 2500 BCE onward. In Andean mythology, the Andean condor was believed to be the leader of the upper world and a symbol of supreme health and power.

This metropolis is one-tenth of the size of the capital, Lima, but equal to it in terms of local cuisine. Traditional restaurants in Arequipa are called ”picanterías”. The local cuisine in Arequipa is claimed to be the most varied in all of Peru; in order to experience that, one should visit different ”picanterías” and try local dishes such as Rocoto Relleno, Pastel de Papa, Chupe de Camarones, Adobo, Alpaca Steaks, Ocopa, Chactoad and more. The diversity of cuisine is bound to amaze. Seafood is a trait of seaside dining, and Ceviche – raw fish cured in lime juice with ají (a spicy chili pepper), is a popular choice. Piranha fish, prepared in a variety of soups is a delicacy of the Amazon jungle. Food is a big part of every celebration in the city, and Arequipa’s annual food festival is held in the Center Plaza.

Characterized by its originality, presence and the rich social and cultural mixture, Arequipa is most certainly worth visiting.

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