Arequipa is a city located in southern Peru, It lies in a oasis at 2,30 masl., surrounded by desert and high mountains. The presence of the Misti Volcano, a symbol of Arequipa, is an inevitable reference point in its history, since not only has Arequipa been affected by many earthquakes, but it has also been built out of white volcanic rock (sillar or ashlar), the reason fot its popular nickname “the White City”. It is also surrounded by other peaks, almost invariably snow-capped, such as Chachani, Pichu and a little further away, Coropuna.

Declared a Cultural Hetirage of Mankind by UNESCO, this city full of beautiful convents, temples and old grand Colonial houses, also maintains a gastronomical wealth, a mixture of native products of the old Pre-Colombian cultures, like Puquina, Collagua and Inca, with European food, something which has given the food of Arequipa a special blend.

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Arequipa History

Its history back to 8000 years B.C. Testimony of this history is its cave/paintings and many archaeological monuments in the surrounding ares. Legend tells of Arequipa being founded by the fourth Inca, Mayta Capac, whose Army invaded and camped in the valley. When it was time to leave, some of his people asked to be able to stay, to which the Inca responde: “ari quepay”, which in Quechua means “yes, you may stay”.

Its founding by the Spaniards dates back to August 15, 1540, when it was baptized as “Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción” (Beautiful Village of Our Lady of the Assumption). Because of its closeness and intermediate location between the sea and the cities of Puno and Cusco, Arequipa played an important role in the times of the Viceroys in the region.

During the Republic, it consolidated its economy by exporting sheep wool and alpaca, vicuña and llama fabrics, suppliying the English industry, wich was the most important in the world in mid 19 th century. At the end of the 19 th century and early in the 20 th century, the city secured its economic leadership in the southern Andean highlands.


Arequipa Location

Southern Peru, Andean zone

Altitude Arequipa

2,335 meters above sea level. (7,660 feet)

Population in Arequipa

762,000 inhabitants

Distances from Arequipa

From Lima 633.8 miles (1,020 km)

From Cuzco 388 miles (625 km)

From Puno: 201.9 miles (325 km)

From Colca Valley 111.8 miles (180 km)
From Tacna 248.5 miles (400 km)


Weather in Arequipa

“The City of Never Ending Spring”, Arequipa has the dry climate of the highlands, with temperatures ranging between 24ºC during the day and 10ºC at night. There is moderate rainfall between January and March, but the sun shines almost every day of the year.

Acces to Arequipa

There are daily flights from Lima, Cusco, Tacna and Puno, and the airport is only 15 minutes way from the city. It way be reached by the different roads connecting the city with the rest of the country. The distance between Lima and Arequipa is 1,020 km, along the South Pan – American Highway, which is equivalent to approximately 12 hours by car and 18 hours by bus. A rail service links the city with Puno and Cusco, and it also offers the Inca service, that joins Arequipa and Sumbay in the Departament of Arequipa.

Arequipa Gastronomy

Arequipa’s cuisine is one of the most diverse and enjoyed in Peru, and there is a wide variety of dishes, sufficient to satisfy a large assortment of choices. For example there are chupes or chowders of many types, according to the day of the week.

FOTO: Chupe de Camarones

They are soups made of beef, lamb, chicken or shrimp, with potatoes, dry meat and corn, seasoned with various types of Andean herbs. Chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder) is the most popular of all of them.

Other dishes are the rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper), cauche de queso (food preparate by stewing onions, tomatoes, chili pepper, milk, cheese and served with tomatoes and corn) and cuy chactado (fried guinea pig served with potatoes) excellent food wich is served
Rocoto Relleno

in restaurants specializing in spicy dishes called picanterías , very typical places where one can taste these regional dishes.

Attractions in Arequipa


FOTO La Catedral

This was built in 1621, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1844. The new temple was built on the burnt foundations, in a neo-Renaissance style, with large facade overlooking the Main Square flanked by two triumphant arches. In its interior, there is the main altar, also from the same era, designed by Italian sculptor Filippo Moratilla and of Carrara marble; the organ, manufactured in Belgium and prized at the Universal Fair of Paris, and the pulpit made of wood carved at the workshops of Buisine-Rigot, in Lile, France.


The church was built between 1595 and 1698. It consist of main structure, two side wings, a sanctuary and choir balcony. Inside there are carved-wood altars covered with gold leaf. In the old sacristy one finds the San Ignacio Chapel, the multi-colored walls of which vivaciously illustrate the tropical flora and wildlife. The cloisters, located next to the temple,. Were built in the 18th century.


This is comprised of a public square, two temples (the Church of San Francisco and the Temple of the Third Order) a convent and the Fierro Foundation (where there is a museum and handicrafts market). The church of San Francsico, built in the 16th century, made of bricks and white lava stone (ashlar) has a rectangular layout comprised of three aisles, Crossing and chancel with a beatiful stone choir balcony. The convent has a library with over 20.000 books and an interesting picture gallery.


FOTO Santa Catalina

Similar to a small city, it is really a unique place. The Monastery, which functioned as such during 400 years, was built in the 16th century. With over 20,000 m2, it is comprised of cloisters, the walls of which were enriched by murals, narrow streets with Spanish names, small cells, white volcano stone fountains, gardens, an impressive temple and a small picture gallery, It opened it’s doors to the public in 1970 and it is one of the most importan attractions of the city.


FOTO La Recoleta

Situaded in the tradicional Antiquilla neighborhood, the convents was founded in 1648. It has several cloisters, which are a good example of Arequipa’s Colonial arquitecture. There is the so-called Alcantarino, of a rectangular layout, which has been preserved in the best of conditions. It has a vast, and valuable library including 25,000 books from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, picture gallery with works from the School of Cusco, and the Amazonian Museum exhibiting objects from the intense missionary activity in the jungle during this period.


Built or white volcanic stone (ashlar) in the mid 18th century, its name stems from an old mulbery tree, which stands in the house’s yard to this very day. Its baroque facade displays carvings of puma heads, with snakes coming out of their mouths. The interior decoration is a magnificent sample of Colonial art, providing unity to the residence, with highly luxurious meeting rooms and furniture of those times.


Built in the mid – 18th century, this is one of the beautiful grand old houses of Arequipa. It is a wonderfull ilustration of Arequipa’s Colonial construccion, based on the use of white volcanic stone (ashlar), arched roofs and patios around which family life was centered. At present, it is the site of a financial intitution and home to a small museum and art gallery.


This is the neighborhood where the city was founded by the Spaniards. Between narrow winding streets, Dominican priest founded a hermitage in 1538, wich later became a parish. Opposite a small square, there is a church built of ashlar stone, adorned with pots of geraniums, a popular arrangement in the old houses of Arequipa.


This is a town on the banks of the River Socabaya, where there is a Colonial house known as the Founder’s Mansion, dating back to the 18th century. This house was well know because it was originally the property of Manuel García de Carvajal, the founder of Arequipa. A series of earthquakes in the area left the building in ruins, until it was restored in the 80’s. Built entirely of ashlar stone, the mansion was owned by the Jesuits and it features a grand view of the River Socabaya.


FOTO Yanahuara

Traditional neighbordhood located 2 km away from the city’s center, consisting of narrow cobblestone streets and old white volcanic stone houses with kitchen gardens and orchards. It features a peaceful square and one of the most important churches of mestizo regional art, built in 1750. From the viewpoint there is a magnificent, view of the city and of this three volcanoes: Misti, Chachani and Pichi Pichu.


Located 3 km from the city center, Cayma offers a superb view of Arequipa. There is an interesting 18th century church, which history dates back, according to the available background, to a modest hermitage erected by the Dominican priests in 1544.


FOTO Sabandia

This is a beatiful spot 8 km away from the city, surrounded by the Chachani and Misti Volcanoes. It has an interesting 18th century hydraulic mill with two water intakes which activate two grindstones. It was originally used for the preparation of wheat flour, corn flour and other cereals. It is a building of a rectangular layout, surrounded by high walls, with elevated buttresses and domes, located on the banks of a stream.



This district located at the foot of the Chachani, 30 km away from the city, features thermal medicinal springs which are used since the time of the Incas. There are wells with sulfur water and others with ferruginous water.


FOTO Salinas y Aguada Blanca

Located 35 km nothwest of the City of Arequipa, it covers an area of 366,936 ha, where the flora, wildlife and geological forms are protected.


FOTO Colca

One may find the impressive Colca Valley four hours north of Arequipa. The climbing trail runs along the foot of the Chachani crossing plateus filled with ichu and yareta (plants of the Umbelliferae familiy commonly used as fuel) where alpacas and vizcachas wander. The higest point of the route is at 4.350 m.a.s.l.,from where it descends into the valley, made up of beautiful landscapes surrounding by terraces and snow-capped peaks. The Colca River meanders below, at a depth of 3,400m, making and snow-capped peaks. The valley has archaeological remains left by the Collagua, ancient inhabitants of the area, such as mysterious petroglyphs and caves, where they stored the colcas or containers where they kept their cereals. Fourteen towns are distributed on both sides of the river. They were founded in the 16th century to gather the Collagua descendants who were dispersed in the area. In spite of the time gone by, these towns have preserved their original features, such as the layout of their streets, their richly adorned colonial churches and their tradicional festivals. Approximately 40km from Chivay, the first of such towns on the route, the incomparable natural Mirador of the Condors may be found, from where one can watch the flight of the condor, the Coropuna and Ampato Volcanoes, in the distance. Several of the towns offer accommodation, but one can also camp out and go for walks. The area of the Colca is ideal to practice adventure sports.


Cotahuasi is an inter-Andean valley which is located 12 hours away, by car, from Arequipa, where spread out tradicional towns may be found, as well as a group of hot springs, the Sipia waterfalls and the geological faults of the Canyon one of the deepest in the worlds. Its landscape is impressive due to the view of the snow-capped mountains of Coropuna and Solimana.

This is an ideal area in which, to practice adventure sports, such as mountain cycling, trekking, mountain climbing (Andinism) and river rafting, among others.


Located in the north of the Province of Castilla, its unique beauty lies in the dozens of dormant volcanoes, the most outstanding being those known as Los Gemelos located 10 km away from the Town of Andahua. South of this town, there is the Andomarca Volcano with a pre-Colombian citadel at its foot. In general, the volcanoes can be visited by foot, which is a good excuse to go trekking.


Either on the way back from Colca through Pampa de Sihuas or directly from Arequipa three hours away, by car, taking the route towards Lima and making a detour of 7km opposite Corire, the amazing Toro Muerto Petroglyphs can be found. These are petrocarvings depicting birds, mammals, reptiles and anthropomorphic and geometrical figures. Volcanic rocks may be observed, dispersed over a large area, most probably as a result of the violent eruptions of the Coropuna and Chachani Volcanoes.


These are located behind the Misti Volcano, 88km away from the city of Arequipa following the road to Cailloma. The average altitude is 4,127 m.a.s.l. and the landscape is typically Puna. The archaeological importance of the place lies in its caves exhibiting valuable paintings from the Paleolithic era, with figures, of human beings, South American camelidae and pumas, among others.


This is a number of natural stone formations which by action of the wind have taken on the appearance of a mysterious petrified forest. This site is easily accessed and is located close to the Arequipa-Juliaca railway and road to Juliaca.


Festivities Calendar

March – April

Easter Holidays

FOTO DE Semana Santa EN AQP

Religious holiday, the date of which may vary. One cn attend several Catholic religious events during the week.


The Virgin of Chapi – May 1st

Crossing the desert and traveling for approximately 15 hr, 45 km away from Arequipa, pilgrims can visit the Sanctuary of Chapi, and pay homepage to the image of the

foto Virgen del Chapi

image of the ” Our Lady of the Purification, more intimately known as the Virgin of Chapi. It is said that in 1790, the parishioner of Pocsi wanted to take the statue elsewhere, but it “suddenly ” became so heavy, that it was imposibble to move. During the main day, the Virgin goes out on a procession over a carpet of flowers; and at night, next to the sanctuary, fireworks are lit and food is sold.


Anniversary of Arequipa -August 15th

Civil and religious festival, which is celebrated all week, with different religious and artistic events, to commemorate the founding of the city by the Spaniards, on the dy of the Virgin of the Assumption.