Arequipa is a worthwhile addition to your Peru visit. The city lies at the feet of the dormant cone of Misti Volcano whose summit reaches 19,098ft which is flanked by two smaller dormant volcanoes. Arequipa is known for being one of the most underrated tourist destinations of Peru. Its nickname the "White City" comes from the fact that the old buildings were made from pale Sillar stone mined from the three surrounding volcanoes.
Before the Incas arrived, Arequipa was home to nomads (Cabana and Collaguas people) in transition as they were beginning to adopt a life of livestock and agriculture. It is said that when the Incas arrived they asked their leader, Inca Mayta Capac, if they could stay. He responded, “Yes, stay”, or “qhipay Ari”, which the Spanish pronounced as Arequipa.
After the Cabana, Collaguas and Incas were conquered, Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro founded the city on August 15, 1540 giving it the name “Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion”. On September 22, 1541 King Charles V renamed it the “City of Arequipa”. The character of Arequipa is one of passion and strength. Home to many prominent social, political and religious figures, the city was regularly awarded titles of loyalty and faith to the crown. In the mid 19th-century international demands for Peruvian goods increased dramatically. This demand brought many middle-class merchants, artisans, professionals and elites to Arequipa shaping the city's personality into what it is today.
First populated by hunters and gathers about 6,000 years ago, Colca Canyon means “qolqas” or the mud and stone granaries built into cliffs and caves throughout the valley. The dry, cool climate in these qolqas served as refrigerated storage for crops and seeds. Qolqas can be seen throughout the valley, although they are most prevalent in Puente Sifon in Yanque. Just like Arequipa, Colca Canyon was first settled by the Cabana and Collaguas people. They were eventually absorbed into the Incan Empire during which they perfected the terraces and irrigation systems already present.
Cruz del Condor
A popular lookout location in Colca Canyon where the mystical and mighty Andean Condor can be seen at close range most every day.
Santa Catalina Convent
Opened to the public after 391 years of seclusion, this is a city within a city with streets, stores, houses, and churches. The convent decided to allow visitors as a means of paying for its ordered upgrade of water and electricity in 1970.
The “Ice Princess, Juanita” is here. Found frozen at the summit of Nevado Ampato, she was sacrificed to please the unpredictable gods of the volcano.
Church of the Company of Jesus
One of the oldest in Arequipa, this church is noted for its detailed facade and altar. It’s blend of saints, native warriors, gold leaf and jungle flora display the Churrigueresque architectural style at its peak of popularity.
Molino de Sabandia
The Molino de Sabandia, or Sabandia Mill, is a restored and functioning water mill. With its lovely grounds and gardens it is a great place for a picnic with a full view of El Misti.
The Archaeological Museum of the Chiribaya
Housing pre-Incan artifacts of ceramics, textiles and workings of gold and silver, the museum itself was built with the designs of the famous French civil engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel.