Arequipa – The White City

Arequipa - The White City The dramatic location of this Peruvian city arouses interest in visiting it. The city lies in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 7,661 feet above sea level, under the benevolent gaze of the snow-capped peaks of now dormant volcano called El Misti.

Its pearly white rocks were quarried by Spanish colonizers for building the city’s many majestic buildings, churches, cathedrals and monasteries. Because of the predominantly off-white color of these colonial buildings, Arequipa earned its nickname La Ciudad Blanca, meaning “The White City”. In recognition of the city’s colonial architecture of historical importance, UNESCO gave it the status of a World Heritage Site.

There is archaeological evidence excavated from the nearby Lake Titicaca that Arequipa was conquered by the Incas in the 15th century and its fertile soil was used for growing agricultural products in abundance for the vast Inca Empire. Perhaps the fertility of this land also attracted the Spanish conquistadors and the city that we now see was founded by them in the mid-16th century.

The city’s historic center is a fine example of colonial architecture representing a fusion of architectural styles prevalent in medieval Europe’s seafaring Mediterranean countries including England and Holland. Their flotilla with mercenary and regular soldiers used to cruise the Atlantic and the Pacific for setting up colonies.

Arequipa - The White City

Although those have now become independent nations, the invaders left their enduring impact on those remote cities and towns and also on the lifestyle and the religion of the people who now live there now.

Besides being an attractive colonial city set amidst surreal mountainous desert, Arequipa is also Peru’s second biggest city and an important industrial and commercial hub. All these attract travelers from far and wide in huge numbers. Whether they come here for business or pleasure – or a bit of both – they all have a good time.

Arequipa is the third most visited city in Peru and many of them come from overseas. It’s a wealthy city and has adequate infrastructure to satisfy the needs of hordes of visitors who come here.

The Arequipa is the city’s only 5-star hotel, built in 1940, famous for its high quality services, warm hospitality, luxurious ambience and convenient location. Rates vary according to demands for guestrooms and a double room costs between $180 and $260 per night. A mid-range hotel would cost about $100 and you could get a backpacker’s hostel for as low as $10. Check the Internet and find out more about the hotel scenario.

Arequipa - The White City

After checking into a hotel of your choice set out to explore the city. You can do that on your own two legs as most popular tourist attractions are within easy walking distance.

In the heart of the city is the late 16th century cloistered convent of Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Peru’s most important religious building. It’s like a mini-city with a complex of buildings, little plazas and narrow cobbled streets and narrower alleys named after Spanish cities.

The Cathedral at the City Center is another magnificent building built in the 17th century made of – like most other colonial buildings – off-white volcanic rocks. Other religious buildings in the vicinity are the Company Church and its cloisters, Convent of La Mercced and Franciscan Convent La Recoleta.

Arequipa is also famous for its exotic food that includes several delicious dishes with tongue-twisting names. Have a meal at the 100-year old Mecca of local gastronomy, Sol de Mayo, located in the city’s nicest neighborhood, Yanahuara. Not only the food is most enjoyable here, but so is its colonial style ambience. Tables are set in a leafy courtyard amidst flowering trees and a cascading waterfall. Local musicians serenade diners throughout the evening. And all these luxuries won’t cost you more than $15!

The international airport is hardly 12 km away from the City Center. You will enjoy more if you bring along your family. And if you are recently married or planning to marry soon, come with your spouse and you will find it an excellent romantic getaway.