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Arequipa – 5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss
With a dramatic skyline dominated by not one but three majestic volcanoes, Arequipa is Peru’s second biggest city. Also known as the White City because of its particular architecture, the city is one of the most beautiful in the country. As if all that wasn’t enough, Arequipa is in a state of eternal spring with mild weather and sunny days most of the year. It’s not surprising then that Arequipa is one of the most popular destinations for those visiting Peru. If you decide to pay a visit to this charming city, these are the things that you shouldn’t miss!
1. Admire the Architecture at the Historic Center
Even though Arequipa lost many of its oldest colonial buildings to major earthquakes, the city has maintained a rich architectural heritage. UNESCO declared its beautiful historic center a World Heritage Site in the year 2000. Most of the heritage properties of Arequipa are built in volcanic sillar rock, a volcanic stone readily available in the area. The architectural style of the city mixes European and native elements, creating a very unique look.
2. Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery
If you only have time to see one site, this should be it. The Santa Catalina Monastery is a spectacular citadel with brightly colored walls and small streets reminiscent of Spanish towns adorned with numerous plants and flowers. It’s an idyllic and peaceful enclosure where nuns from wealthy families spent their lives in service of the Church. Today, it’s opened to the public and it’s one of the most visited sites in Arequipa.
2. See the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
The massive cathedral dominates Arequipa’s main square and is one of the city’s iconic sights with the Misti volcano standing behind it. The cathedral is one of Peru’s most important colonial churches and a fine example of neoclassical architecture. Curiously, it has been rebuilt several times because of earthquakes and a fire.
3. Have a Look at The Ice Maiden
Resting in the Museo Santuarios Andinos, the well-preserved frozen remains of the Ice Maiden offer a glimpse to the times of the Inca empire. Also known as Juanita, the Ice Maiden was a young girl who was sacrificed centuries ago by the Incas to a mountain god. In 1995, her body was found and caused ripples in the scientific community, who couldn’t understand how the body could have remained in such good condition.
4. Trek in the Colca Canyon
If you fancy getting out of the city for a few days to spend some time in natural surroundings, you need look no further than the Colca Canyon. Located just 160 kilometers from Arequipa, the Colca Canyon is the second deepest in the world. There are many attractions all along its length, making it one the most popular locations for trekking in the country.
5. Enjoy the Local Cuisine
Arequipa’s contribution to Peruvian cuisine cannot be ignored. Some of the most emblematic dishes have their origins here: rocoto relleno, chupe de camarones and ocopa. The best setting to enjoy the local cuisine is in the picanterías – small typical restaurants that specialize in spicy lunch meals.
So as you see, Arequipa has many top attractions guaranteed to please all types of visitors. If you’re planning to visit Peru, you should consider stopping in this lovely city for a few days to really enjoy what it has to offer. Have you visited Arequipa before? What are your top things to do here? We’d love to hear your tips!
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