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• By land: Lima - Arequipa (1 003 km) about 14 h drive.
• By air: Daily flights depart from Lima (about 1 h approximately) and Cusco (about 30 minutes).
• By railroad: There is a service that links Arequipa with the cities of Juliaca, Puno and Cusco.( No always available)
The department of Arequipa has a great historic past which goes back to ancient times (8 000 to 6 000 BC). Testimonies of this history are its cave-paintings. The first Spaniards settlers of what was to become Arequipa were the Dominican Priests who built a chapel and later a parish in what is now known as Barrio de San Lázaro. Arequipa was founded on August 15th, 1 540, in the valley of Chili, and was given the name of Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de Asunta or Asunción. In 1 541, a short time after its foundation, it was given the status of city. When Potosí passed to the Viceroyship of Río de la Plata, Arequipa was no longer a part of the route of the silver that was sent to Spain, and was forced to face severe economic consequences. The city re-emerged thanks to its mines in Caylloma and the development of agriculture. In 1 870, with the arrival of the railroad, Arequipa became an important commercial center in the southern part of Peru. Arequipa, called the White City for its buildings of white ashlar stone (a volcano stone), was an important bastion against Spain during the Independence war in the nineteenth century.
During the twentieth century, many important personages natural of this department have stood out in the country’s political and cultural life.
Attractions in the city of Arequipa
Located in the Main Square. Phone: (054) 21-5701 Visits: Monday to Saturday 7:00-13:30 and 17:00-18:30, Sunday 7:00-13:00. The old cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1 844. It was restored in 1 868 by Arequipa-native Lucas Poblete in Neo-renaissance style with French influence, and it is considered to be one of the biggest in South America.
La Compañía Church
Corner of calle General Morán and calle Alvarez Tomás. Visits: Monday to Sunday: 8:00-12:00 and 16:00-19:00 The façade made with white ashlar stone (sillar), the carved wood pulpit and the sacristy are remarkable. The cloister of La Compañía has vaulted galleries and bell-shaped arches with sculpted columns in pure Arequipa style.
Santo Domingo Church
Corner of calle Santo Domingo and calle Rivero. Phone: (054) 21-3511. Visits: Monday-Sunday 7:00-11:00 and 15:00-18:00. A seventeenth century church displaying interesting sculptures on the right side portico. San Francisco Church Calle Zela block 1. Phone: (054) 22-3048. Visits: Monday to Saturday 8:00-10:00 and 17:00-19:00, Sunday mornings only. It houses a 20 000 book library, a vast collection of paintings and a chapel that form part of this interesting Colonial architectural complex of the sixteenth century.
Monastery of Santa Catalina
Calle Santa Catalina 301. Visits: Monday to Saturday: 9:00-16:00. Peru’s most important and impressive religious construction, founded in September 1 579 under the patronage of Saint Catherine of Sienna. Its doors remained closed to the world until 1 970. Spreading over 20 426 m2, it has preserved intact its sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’ design. Its narrow squares, streets and gardens bearing Spanish names remind the visitor of old Seville and Granada quarters. Its two site museums exhibit important art works such as relics, porcelain, religious objects, sculptures and oil paintings from several schools.
San Lázaro Church
Av. Juan De la Torre, Barrio de San Lázaro. A small chapel in San Lázaro Square, was the first church to be built in Arequipa’s oldest quarter.
La Recoleta Church
Jr. Recoleta 117. Phone: (054) 27-0966. Visits: Monday to Saturday 9:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:30. A Franciscan convent founded in 1 648, with cloisters that are an example of Arequipa’s colonial architecture. It has a library with works from the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries (25 000 volumes). There is also an Amazonian Museum exhibiting objects from the missionary activity in the jungle during this period.
Archaeological Museum of the University of San Agustín
Corner of Av. Alvarez Thomas and Av. Palacio Viejo. Phone: (054) 28-8881. Visits: Monday to Friday 9:00-14:00. It has several sections, the most important being the History and Anthropology Hall, housing remarkable collections of pottery of varied styles belonging to the many civilizations that flourished in the department.
Anthropological Museum of the University of Santa María
Calle Samuel Velarde 620, Umacollo. Phone: (054) 20-0345. Visits: Monday to Saturday 9:00-17:30. It houses a collection of prehistoric stone objects, stone weapons and textiles.
Santuarios de Altura Museum
Calle Santa Catalina 210, Cercado. Phone: (054) 22-2554. Visits: Monday to Saturday 9:00-18:00, Sunday 9:00-17:00. This building houses the Maiden of Ampato exhibition. It is located in front of the Monastery of Santa Catalina in Santa Catalina street.
Outskirts of the city
Located 2 km from downtown and about 8 minutes drive. Both its church, built in 1 750, and a belvedere with ashar arches overlooking the city, are remarkable.
Located 9 km from the city of Arequipa and about 20 minutes drive. Beautiful countryside landscapes at the foot of the Chachani and Misti volcanoes. The eighteenth century mill is worth a visit.
Located 6 km from the city of Arequipa and about 12 minutes drive. Hot springs specifically prescribed for kidney, liver and skin diseases.
Located 148 km northeast of Arequipa and about 4 h drive. To follow this circuit travelers must head for the northwestern part of Arequipa to Yura until reaching the cove known as Mirador de los Cóndores (natural outlook). From there it is possible to make out the snow-capped summits of Ampato and Sabancaya. The descent continues down to Chivay. There is another route 160 km to the north, that takes about 5 h drive. The journey is along the Charcani and follows a winding road over the slope of the Chachani volcano, rapidly descending to the magnificent Colca Valley where the traveler will have the sight of a beautiful landscape surrounded by terraces, snow-capped mountains and villages founded in the sixteenth century. It was in those days that Viceroy Toledo ordered to have the dispersed descendants of the Collaguas brought together in 14 communities. The villages have remained as if suspended in time, preserving their original characteristic features like the layout of their streets, their richly decorated churches and their traditional festivities. The first town to visit is Chivay (142 km from Arequipa) in which travelers can find lodging and food services. Some 40 km further to the northwest is Cabanaconde, and nearby, the Cruz del Cóndor observation point. The Colca zone is very appropriate for adventure tourism and travelers are recommended to stay more than one day to enjoy the area.
Toro Muerto Petroglyphs
Located 165 km west of Arequipa and about 6 h drive. On the way back from Colca Valley through Pampa de Siguas or leaving directly from Arequipa, taking the route to Lima and then a 7 km detour at Corire (district of Uraca), the amazing Toro Muerto petroglyphs can be found. Volcanic rocks lie over approximately 5 km2, most probably the result of violent eruptions of the Coropuna and Chachani volcanoes. The petroglyphs which are dispersed over an area of 3 876 m long and 250 m wide, depict animals and plants.
Imata Stone Forest
Located 113 km and about 3 h 30 minutes drive from the city of Arequipa. Rock formation consisting of a singular series of natural stone columns to which the erosion of the wind has given the form of a mysterious petrified forest. This site of easy access is located near the Arequipa – Juliaca railway. Access by land is gained taking the road to Puno.
Cotahuasi Valley and Canyon
Located in the province of La Unión, 379 km and about 12 h drive from the city of Arequipa, this is an Inter-Andean valley with several attractions such as the Sipia Falls, its hot springs, the privileged view of Coropuna and Solimana Mounts and the Canyon’s faults, considered together with the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest on earth. Its impressive landscape makes it ideal for activities such as canoeing, trekking, photography, mountain biking, etc.
Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve
Located 35 km in the northwest of Arequipa city about 1 h drive. It covers an area of 366 936 Ha and protects the natural vegetation and wild life as well as geological formation such as inactive volcanoes (Misti 5 821 masl, Chachani 6 075 masl and Pichu Pichu 5 440 masl).
The region boasts a large variety of dances accompanied by different costumes, the mostimportant being probably the Carnaval Arequipeño, a group dance that is present during the week of carnival and the city’s anniversary (August 15th); the Yaraví, of Quechua origin; the Pampeña, a primitive huayno in which dancers dress on farmer costumes. The most genuine musical expression of Arequipa is the Yaraví. Other popular expressions of Arequipa’s musical folklore include the Carnaval Arequipeño, the popular Huayno and the Pampeña.
Craftsmen manufacture repoussé leather items such as belts, desk objects and furniture. With ashlar stone they make lamps, pictures, ashtrays and decorative items. Forged iron is used in the making of street lamps, gates, lamps and decorative furniture. They also make copper items.
Arequipa’s cuisine is one of the most varied in Peru. Some of its most famous dishes include:
• Assorted Chupes conceived to be served each day of the week, such as chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder with milk, eggs and oregano).
• Rocoto relleno (baked red hot chili stuffed with minced meat, cheese, milk and potatoes).
• Soltero (soft unripened cheese salad with lima beans, onions, olives and red hot chili pepper).
• Adobo arequipeño (pork marinated with chicha and species, cooked in a covered saucepan).
• Ocopa (cooked potatoes, covered by a sauce made of soft unripened cheese, lima beans, onions, olives and red hot chili pepper).
• Escribano (salad made of potatoes, red hot chili pepper, vinegar, oil, tomatoes and parsley).
• Pebre (soup based on lamb’s meat, beef and cured llama or lamb meat).
Feast of the Virgin of Chapi (May) Feast celebrated with pilgrimages to the sanctuaries and displays of fireworks on the eve. Corpus Christi Festivity (June) Feast celebrated with a mass and the Corpus Christi procession departing from the city’s Cathedral. Anniversary of the City of Arequipa (August) Arequipa International Fair held in Cerro Juli comprising a number of attractions and artistic and recreational activities, including the Misti Ascent International Competition and crafts exhibitions in Fundo del Fierro.
The central day (August 15th) includes a Friendship Parade, among other activities. Feast of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (December) The celebration comprises a number of cultural activities including the famous Witite dancers’ competition.