MundoAndino Home : Andes Peru Andes Travel: Peru culture, lodging, travel, and tours


AREQUIPA:Holds the Cotahuasi Canyon in the province La Union and the Colca Canyon located in the province of Cailloma. These are considered two of the worlds deepest canyons!

For the cactus genus, see Oreocereus.

Arequipa, located in southern Peru, is that nation's second largest city. It is also the capital of the Arequipa Province, and is 633.8 miles from Lima. The city lies in the highlands at the foot of the snow-capped volcano El Misti. El Misti is currently inactive, but erupted strongly between 1438 and 1471. Several smaller eruptions have occurred since then, most recently in 1784. Arequipa has over 80 volcanoes which can be found in the Valley of Volcanoes.

Arequipa has many fine colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock used extensively in the city, and from which it gets its nickname La Ciudad Blanca ("the white city"). The historic centre of Arequipa was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000, in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity. The city is located at an altitude of 2,380 meters (7740 feet) above sea level. El Misti is located beside a bigger volcano Chachani "the Beloved" and the peak Picchu Picchu "Top Top" - both named in the Quechua language of the ancient Inca Empire.


It is often said that the city's name comes from the Quechua phrase "Ari, quepay" which means "Yes, here" which is said to have been the response of the Fourth Inca - Mayta Capac - upon seeing the site of the great city, which was later destroyed in an earthquake, but reestablished by the Spanish in 1540.

Nowadays it is assumed that the name derives from Aymara "ari" (peak) + "kipa" (locative) and means something like "near the mountain" in reference to the nearby El Misti Volcano, which towers 5822 meters above sea level.


Arequipa is dry and sunny all year long. During August, the weather gets slightly cold at night and at dawn, but the mornings and afternoons are warmed by bright sunshine.

Generally speaking, the weather in Arequipa is mild with temperatures fluctuating between 10 and 24C.

The rainy season lasts from January to March but rainfall is reasonably moderate.


Archaeological findings indicate the fertile valley in which Arequipa is situated has been occupied back to 5000 – 6000 BCE. In the 15th century, the region, then occupied by Aymara Indians, was conquered by the Inca and served as an important supplier of agrarian products to the Inca Empire. The modern city of Arequipa was founded on 15 August, 1540, by Garci Manuel de Carbajal, an emissary of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Arequipas' first mayor was D. Juan de la Torre y Diaz Chacon, one of the most important conquistadores and founders of Peru.

One year later, King Charles V of Spain gave it the rank of 'city' and the coat of arms that it still bears. Spanish influence left many relics and colonial architecture, which reminds the visitor of the city's colonial past, when

it was the city with the highest proportion of Spanish population in Viceroyalty of

Peru .

This led Arequipa to develop a large mestizo population as its demographics changed and grew over the centuries. Since the late 1940's, however, there has been a huge and increasing immigration from the Peruvian sierra, thus changing the demographic and cultural character of the city.

Throughout history Arequipa remained relatively isolated during colonial and early republican times, but that changed in 1870 when a Southern railroad to the coastal port of Mollendo was inaugurated, opening trade via the Pacific Ocean. The building and expansion of more roads in the 1930s also led to a direct connection with the Pan-American Highway, strengthening Arequipa's links to the rest of the Americas. Since then, the city has remained the center of commerce between Lima and all of southern Peru.

Arequipa served as a bastion of nationalism during Peru's struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century. Later, it served as a rallying point during the War of the Pacific with Chile.

Villages from pre-Incan times are still in use today by many different farmers. Some of these farmers include those from the districts of Chilina, Socabaya, Paucarpata, Characato, and Sabandia.


The city has had many universities but the most recognized are the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin de Arequipa, the local state university (founded 1828), the Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria (founded in 1961), and the Universidad catolica de San pablo, these are private institutions.

One of Peru's largest stadiums, Estadio Monumental de la UNSA, is also located in Arequipa and hosted some of the 2004 American Soccer Cup soccer games, attracting many tourists as well as locals.


Founded as a colonial city, Arequipa is influenced by both Andalusian and Spanish colonial ideas and architecture. Popular and touristic sites include the 16th century Santa Catalina Monastery, the Goyeneche Palace, Casa del Moral, and the district of Yanahuara, a point of confluence for visitors seeking a view point of the urban geography of the city. Arequipa has many valuable archaeological and tourist resources including the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and an ideal spot for observing the magnificent Andean Condor.

Historic Centre of Arequipa

The Historic centre of Arequipa, built in volcanic sillar rock, represents an integration of European and native building techniques and characteristics, expressed in the admirable work of colonial masters and Criollo and Indian masons. This combination of influences is illustrated by the city's robust walls, archways and vaults, courtyards and open spaces, and the intricate Baroque decoration of its facades.

Santa Catalina monastery

Santa Catalina Monastery was founded on the second of October in 1580 and has an extension of 20000 square metres and was constructed in the second half of the XVIth Century. The Convent, in which there are still nuns living in cloisters, is a walled small city with narrow streets, passages, stair cases and small squares.

The Convent, a city in miniature closed to the public until 1970, combines the white colour of the sillar with other tonalities, like ochre, indigo and orange that go well with the otherwise austere style.

Complex of Jesus

Of impressive conventual aspect, it is the only edifice, which conserves the colonial art from its bases. It consists of two cloisters with portal led corridors made of carved sillar and Jesuitics monograms in the upper part. It is the purest sample of the mestizo Arequipa style.

which was built by the Jesuits in the XVIIth Century, makes an impression by its carved facade that was finished in 1698. Its pulpit in carved wood and its old sacristy, well-known as the so called Sixtine Chapel of Arequipa, was the fruit of the work of anonymous indigenous artists, who imprimed in the work their own colour, their own motives and their own spirit.

The temple presents a structure of two levels, typical of the European churches of the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries. Other architectonic details of interest are the half point vaults and the half columns that hold up the superior floor.

Its interior is a display of luxury and ornamentacion, with golden altars of Mestizo Baroque style, a beautiful pulpit from the XVIIth Century and more than 60 paintings of the Cusco School

Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is an impressive geological formation in the Volcanic Mountain Range, stretching for 100 km and descending to a depth of 3,400 m. of height, which is considered the second deepest of the world. There are many volcanoes, impressive in terms of height and activity, such as Mt. Ampato rising 6,310 m above sea level, and Mt. Coropuna, 6,425 m.a.s.l.

The river and valley were well-known to the Incas and their predecessors, and the Spaniards laid out townships along the valley, no doubt planning to use Rio Colca valley as the route to Cuzco and other Andean locations. They built churches along the way, notably the one at Coporaque, but for some reason, the towns never grew and the route faded from outside memory.

It's is an ideal place to practice adventure tourism: trekking, camping, mountaineering, white water running,etc.

The Founder's mansion

Built with sillar stone at the edge of a cliff, it is one of the most important and traditional mansions or houses in the department. According to the story, Garci Manuel de Carbajal, founder of Arequipa, had it built for his son. Later, in 1785, Mr. Juan Crisostomo de Goyeneche y Aguerreverre was its proprietor and remodeled it, giving it the distinguished characteristics that can be seen today. The main entrance is composed of a foyer with an arched ceiling, followed by a wide principal patio over which the windows and doors of the bedrooms open.


Arequipa is served by the Rodriguez Ballon International Airport.

Recent Events

Arequipa has experienced many earthquakes. It was almost destroyed by one in 1868, and on June 23, 2001, Arequipa was badly damaged by an earthquake of 7.9 on the Richter scale.

In June 2002, Arequipa was completely paralyzed for a week by strikes and riots in protest of the privatization of two regional electricity-generating plants.

Sister Cities

Vancouver, Washington USA

Charlotte, North Carolina USA, since 1962

Guangzhou, China

Seattle, Washington USA

Lima Peru

Notable people from Arequipa

Jose Bustamante y Rivero, President of Peru (1945-1948)

Mario Vargas Llosa, Renowned writer

Victor Andres Belaunde, Lawyer, chaired two sessions of UN General Assembly

Eduardo Lopez de Romana, President of Peru (1899-1903)

Nicolas de Pierola, President of Peru (1879-1881) and from (1895-1899)

Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo, famous cloistered nun.

Hernando de Soto, Renowned international economist

Mariano Felipe Paz Soldan, Peruvian historian and geographer

Mariano Melgar, Poet, Independence fighter

Francisco Garcia Calderon, President of Peru (1881)

Pedro Diez Canseco, Two time President of Peru. He was previously Vice President both times

Francisco Xavier de Luna Pizarro, Peruvian Priest and Politician; President of Peru during two brief occasions

Julio Granda, Chess Grand Master

Pedro Paulet, Scientist, Peruvian engineer and statesman, The inventor of the liquid fuel motor (1895) and the first modern rocket propulsion system (1900)

Alberto Vargas, Painter, Noted for his famous Vargas Girls Collection

Alex Olmedo, Tennis Player, Ranked 1 in the world in 1959

Honorio Delgado, renowned Psychiatrist

Ignacio Alvarez Thomas, Soldier who fought in the independence war in Argentina. Supreme Director of the Argentine Federation from 1815-1816.

Madeleine Hartog Bell, Miss World titleholder in 1967.

Jorge Vinatea Reinoso, Painter.

Julio Malaga Grenet, Famous caricaturist.

Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of the Shining Path.

Vladimiro Montesinos, imprisoned former head of the National Intelligence Service

Juan Pablo Vizcardo y Guzman, Jesuit priest, Precursor of the Peruvian Independence

Alberto Hidalgo, Poet.

Everardo Zapata Santillana, Educator. Author of the best seller book "Coquito" for children.

Carlos Baca Flor, Famous painter.

See also

2001 southern Peru earthquake

Arequipa region

History of Peru

Peruvian culture

Spanish conquest of Peru

External links

Local government of Arequipa

Gallery Arequipa

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Cities in Peru or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Arequipa

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009