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Founded on August 5, 1540, by Manuel Garci de Carbajal, the city\'s name comes from the Quechua phrase "Arequipa i" which means "Yes, stay". It\'s not just by chance however that its name has held true throughout time; in the city streets, in its 'sillar' walls and in the attitude of it's people you feel a peculiar energy, a strange impulse, inviting you to stay on in the city. On the skirts of the western range of the Andes, at the foot of the Misti volcano, Arequipa (2,350 m.a.s.l.), is the capital of the department of the same name. It is a beautiful city of mansions, temples and convents built out of 'sillar' - a material of solidified volcanic rock -, and distinguished by a unique architectural style. Arequipa is surrounded by magical countryside giving it a refreshing, bucolic air.
In the Arequipa Historical Centreyou can admire a wholly 'arequipeño' architecturural style. Formed towards the end of the 17th century, it's a blend of Italian baroque, Spanish silver-plating and Andean creativity. The ancestral mansions and the ancient churches and convents are built out of 'sillar', a pearl-white building material which, when the sun's light hits it, produces a glimmer, a magnificent glow, therefore causing people to affectionately call Arequipa "La Ciudad Blanca of Peru" ("The White City"). On the Arequipa outskirts you'll find fascinating villages with stepped terraces dating from pre-Inca times that are still used today by farmers from the districts of Chilina, Socabaya, Paucarpata, Characato and Sabandia. Two of the world\'s deepest canyons are found in the department of Arequipa: Cotahuasi, in the province of La Union, and Colca, in the province of Cailloma. The spectacular Valley of the Volcanoes in Andagua, the beaches of Mollendo and Camana and Puerto Inca beach in Caraveli, are all fascinating places which must also be visited.
HISTORY AND AREQUIP’AS GEOGRAPHY:
The Misti volcano may be dormant, but Arequipa wakens every morning amidst a flurry of activity. And although the summit of the volcano is often wreathed by small clouds of smoke, the Arequipa townsfolk -proud of their land- do not fail to invite visitors to stroll through the streets of white stone and traditional squares. The lordly city of Arequipa owes the characteristic hue of its houses and other constructions to the white sillar stone quarried in the region. Founded as the Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de Asunta (the Beautiful Villa of Our Lady of Asunta), Arequipa was recognized as a city in 1541. Throughout its history, Arequipa has also been the cradle of leading thinkers and politicians. Today, the visitor can take in the spectacular neo-Renaissance Cathedral, the impressive Santa Catalina Convent, colonial mansions and museums, all of which are reason enough to visit Arequipa.
On the outskirts of the city one can find many other attractions. The Colca Valley is without a doubt the best-known both in Peru and abroad. Just four hours northeast of the city, the Colca boasts some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Peru: superb terracing, snow-capped peaks, dizzying canyons and towns dating back to the sixteenth century. There are 14 villages that have been preserved in the valley since those early colonial times, which the Spaniards used to settle the ancient Collagua and Cabana tribes, who had previously been scattered around the region. The visitor to the Colca Valley will surely be fascinated by the narrow streets and richly decorated churches. The Colca is also a haven for adventure sports fans. Other sites include the ancient Toro Muerto rock paintings, the Imata natural stone formations and the Cotahuasi Canyon, believed to be the world\'s deepest. But what truly unites the different parts of Arequipa is without a doubt its exquisite cuisine. Visitors should not fail to try the local rocoto relleno (stuffed hot chili pepper), adobo (marinated roast beef) and the spicy chupe stews, which are simply irresistible
Central point and nucleous of the urban life around which the city has developed. It is large and square, with a noticeable inclination. It is recognized for the symmetric harmony of its architecture, and surrounded by the Cathedral and three sides with double arches, which form porticoes of carved \"sillar\" and granite, and vaults made of brick.
Neoclassical style an with imposing facade that occupies all the Northern front, with 70 columns and three porticoes, made of sillar covered with Gothic brick vaults. Over it, two stylized towers soar. Its construction started in 1621 nd took eight years. It was destroyed by a fire in 1844 and was restored. There are relics of great value kept inside: the main altar made of Carrara marble (Italy), the stalls about the choir and a great organ purchased in Europe in the XIX century.
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.
SAN FRANCISCO CHURCH:
The Church, the Convent, and the Square of San Francisco constitute a beautiful sample of architecture in the center of Arequipa. The very small square has an atmosphere of stillness and rest. The temple has only one vaulted aisle and a sanctuary with a cupola; the combination of sillar and brick gives a beautiful aspect, with a very nice stone choir. It posses a library with volumes books and a complete Picture Gallery.
SANTA CATALINA MONASTERY:
Santa Catalina was built in Arequipa, the city that was founded in 1540 in a place specially chosen for its natural beauty and good climate, and with a unique construction material: sillar, a porous stone from volcanic lava used to built a nice city with our own architectural designs, with spaces and proportions of great esthetic value, and also to have carvings on imposing fronts with fine decorative details, making of Arequipa a colonial center of marked identity, within the main urban centers of the continent. Its architectonic style is mainly colonial, but of a mestizo nature. Different from other colonial heritages in this part of Latin America, in Santa Catalina specially, the fusion of Spanish and native elements can be observed to the point of generating it own creativity.
The recurrent earthquakes affecting Arequipa since 1582 destroyed the older constructions and also the properties of the relatives of the nuns of Santa Catalina over whom the income that guaranteed the future economy and life of the Monastery was dependent. This was the reason and origin for building the citadel whiting the monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena in Arequipa. The relatives of the nuns decided to built private cells for them, because the common dormitory was damaged and was also too small for the increasing number of nuns. For almost two centuries during the viceroyalty, the cloisters and cells of Santa Catalina have underwent modifications, additions and new constructions. All of these have made of it a sample of the colonial architecture of Arequipa.
CHURCH AND CONVENT OF RECOLETA:
In the simple and austere cloisters covered with tiled roofs, many valuable testimonies of different epochs can be found. Within these cloisters, one of the most important religious libraries of Peru is found, where valuable books printed in the XV century are kept.
TEMPLE OF SAINT AUGUSTINE:
It reminds of the Mexican Churches; the sacristy is formed by and octogonal room. The facade shows the splendor of the mestizo architecture of the XVI and XVII centuries and it is adorned with very stylized flowers and leaves, being an example of the Arequipa ornamental art.
THE JESUIT TEMPLE:
The impressive temple of the Company of Jesus was built between 1610 and 1698 and constitutes the most beautiful and complete colonial edifice of the city. Its intricate stands out among the other churches. Its style is plateresque, throughout all the church colorful and stylized profuse ornamentation is displayed. The temple is in the shape of a Latin cross, with a main aisle and two lateral ones, a high choir and a beautiful pulpit from the XVII century.
THE MULBERRY TREE HOUSE:
Named after a very old mulberry tree that is found within. It was built in the XVII century and its most interesting architecture shows on its front heraldic emblems carved in sillar. The sillar vaults of the large rooms are also carved, as well as the doors and windows. The interior decoration is a magnificent sample of Spanish art, giving unity to the residence with very luxurious rooms and old furniture.
TRISTAN DEL POZO HOUSE:
Its facade is one of the best architectural jewels of Peru and in Arequipa it represents the best achieved expression of the colonial civil architecture. There are three windows on the front and a Jesuitic monogram carved in sillar is found in the upper part of the gate.
THE FOUNDER’S MANSION:
It is surrounded by lovely countryside and tradition links it with the half-bred son of the founder. With ample terraces, it is a building with a special natural charm. It has a little chapel.
CHURCH AND SQUARE OF YANAHUARA:
One of the most representatives colonial churches of the city, dated on 1750, it was built with sillar, showing us a barrocal facade and sober inner places. Located in the main square of the legendary district of Yanahuara, a picturesque village with narrow passages and old houses with small orchards. It also have a mirador with arches in sillar that commands a partial view of the city.
MUSEUMS OF AREQUIPA:
Something we are bound to save and publish in our rich and valuable ethnic, religious and cultural past. At present, there are in Arequipa several museums, among them: The Recoleta Museum with two rooms for pre-columbine art, an amazonic and ethnographic museum, a museum religious art, a picture gallery, and a library with over 20 thousand books, printed since XV century.
THE LADY OF AMPATO:
It is believed that during the domain of Tahuantinsuyo the area was scarcely populated by some Inca nobility about whom there was no clear knowledge till 1986 when a striking discovery on top of the Ampato volcano took place, as the body of a young Inca lady in a perfect state of preservation was found. This invaluable archeological and anthropological testimony, admired the world over, tells us about the life of the Inca inhabitants in this region.
THE JOSE MARIA MONZANTE ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, AT THE SAN AGUSTIN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY:
Which houses more than 8 thousand archeological pieces from the litic period and of Chavin, Paracas, Nazca, Mochica, Tiahuanaco, Wari and Inca cultures.
THE ANVIRONES OF AREQUIPA:
On arriving in Arequipa, it is surprising to see the city surrounded by its three volcanoes, and impressive view indeed, centered by Misti, flanked by Chachani and Pichu Pichu. Nowadays, they are inactive, but long ago when they erupted, the volcanic lava became prettified originating \"Sillar\", a white porous stone, the prime element for the ancient constructions of the city and nowadays is a characteristic element of expression of art and architecture.
It is a National Reserve, formed by extense plains, created to protect the natural species of the region, especially thousands of vicuñas.
THE COLCA CANYON:
A place tourists should not miss, it considered the second deepest canyon in the world (3400 mts. deep). The small town of Chivay welcomes tourists to the imponent canyon.This town still keeps the cultural characteristics, customs and traditions of its ancient origin, imposing as well as its colorful costumes. If you prefer, you may visit the mountain tops to see the Condor, master of the hights. For those who like adventure, it is tempting to meet the wild waters of the Colca river and navigate its rapids in an exciting ride
AMAZON RIVER BORN IN AREQUIPA:
The Amazon River has its source in Arequipa, in the snow-capped heights of the Mismi, and precisely because its true place of origin has been determined to be on the Mismi, it can now be stated that the Amazon is longer than the Nile (6,700 km) and is, in fact, the longest river in the world, flowing for 7,872 km. This fact has been confirmed recently by National Geographic experts, who followed the whole course of the river to where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon has four contributing rivers on the Mismi: the Carhuasanta, Apacheta, Caccansa and Sillanque.
Arequipa, next to the Andes and the Volcanic range, is good for practicing mountain climbing and trekking. Many places can be chosen, but one of the most attractive ones is the climb up Misti, whose 5825 mts. pick represents a great challenge. Another ideal snow capped mountain to climb is Ampato, with its innumerable hidden mysteries. Important archeological discoveries were made there; especially that of the Ice Maiden, an Inca princess, evidencing this was an Inca sanctuary.
One of the adventure sports that Arequipa offers its visitors is rafting which can be practiced in several places, like the Majes Valley, the Colca or the Cotahuasi Canyons. With rapids between 4 and 5 degrees of difficulty, the riskier ones must be left ant the end for the experts.
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