Arequipa Travel Blog

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View of the main plaza in Arequipa with the cathedral┬┤s two towers, one of which collapsed in a recent earthquake and was rebuilt

Arequipa is a lovely old colonial city which we used as a base for our trip to the Colca Canyon, spending a couple of nights here.  It is known as the White City because of the stone used in many of the grand buildings which remain in the central areas.  Many ornate buildings, especially churches, survive and confront you as you turn the corner. 

One of the oddest buildings is the Santa Catalina Convent which covers acres and acres of land in the very centre, surrounded by walls which until recently had kept the nuns in and visitors (including their family) out, allowing them to live in total seclusion.  Now most of the small cobbled streets and formed living quarters are open to the public, though a small number of nuns remain hidden away.

Intricate carving appears on many buildings, this is probably the best example on one of the many ornate churches
We were told that young girls used to be sent there when about 12 years old and would be kept in individual cells for 23 hours a day for years and years just to check that they were happy to be kept away from society for the rest of their lives, devotng their time to God instead.  Sounded a lot like prison to us, only one where the rich families had to pay many gold coins to send their kids.  Then again a small price to pay to get rid of their inevitable whinging!

We also visited the museum in which Juanita is kept.  She is a famous mummy of a 12 year old girl who was found about 10 years ago near the summit of the nearby volcano.  It is thought that the Inca┬┤s walked her up this tough climb, drugged her and left her to die as a sacrifice to the gods in order to ask for rain.

Fountain in the main plaza, home to many many pigeons which are regularly fed by locals
  Because of the icy conditions the body was really well preserved until a few years ago the volcano began steaming and she melted out of the ice, fell down a bit of the volcano, and was found.  She is now kept in a special case that allows her to remain frozen whilst visitors can peer through the glass in the dim light and try to make out her frozen face and hands.  Very spooky but quite cool (sadly no photos allowed)!

Arequipa also has a number of trendy bars which come alive at night, very much a small cafe culture, extremely chilled out.  And when we ventured down to the main square on Friday night we encountered all manner of street theater, traditional dances and pavement painters.  All in all a city well worth a visit!

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View of the main plaza in Arequipa…
View of the main plaza in Arequip…
Intricate carving appears on many …
Intricate carving appears on many…
Fountain in the main plaza, home t…
Fountain in the main plaza, home …
photo by: halilee