Arequipa Centre Travel Tourist Information
LOCATION, EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Arequipa is located in the south western part of the country. It limits to the north with Ica, Ayacucho and Apurímac, to the south with Moquegua, to the east with Cusco and Puno, and to the west with the Pacific Ocean. Since part of its territory is Coast and part Sierra, the weather is varied (intense heat in summer and low temperatures in winter).
Arequipa has an extension of 63,528 km² (24,500 sq ml) and a population of almost 1'000,000 people.
The capital is the city of Arequipa, located at 2,335 m.a.s.l. (7,600 ft), with a beautiful architecture, based in ashlar stone, an extraordinary landscape and countryside, and a dry climate with mild temperatures.
BRIEF HISTORIC OUTLINE
The department of Arequipa has a past that goes back to primitive times. It is estimated that the first settlements date from six to eight thousand years BC, during the Paleolithic Period. Evidence of this is found in the Yarabamba region, at Pampa Colorada and Sumbay, behind the Misti volcano. There it is possible to see Rupestrian paintings in caves of pre-historical times.
The Incas conquered Ayacucho, building an administrative provincial center of great importance in the zone of Vilcashuamán.
When the Incas, around the fifteenth century, expanded their domains in this region, they found two well-established ethnic groups in the region of the Colca valley, the Callaguas and the Cabanas, who were outstanding for their farming, seen still today in the their terraces or andenerías and irrigation systems.
In August 15, 1540, the Spanish, under the command of Captain Manuel García Carbajal founded the Villa Hermosa de Arequipa. One year later, King Charles V of Spain gave it the rank of 'city' and the coat of arms that remains until today.
The so called Ciudad Blanca or White City, due to the white color of its buildings constructed with sillar or petrified organic ash from the Chachani volcano, was a very important bastion during the struggle for independence in the nineteenth century. Most outstanding among the precursors were Juan Pablo Vizcardo y Guzmán, author of the Letter to the Spanish Americans; Francisco Javier Luna Pizarro, head of the First Constitutional Congress in 1822; and the poet Mariano Melgar, executed in Humachiri.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF THE CAPITAL
Monasterio de Santa Catalina. This is the most important and spectacular religious monument in Perú. It was founded in September of 1579 by the name of Santa Catalina de Siena and shut to the world until 1970.
Main Square, Cathedral, Town Hall, beautifully architecture and surrounded by ashlar arcades.
Iglesia de la Compañía. Founded by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century.
Church and Monastery of La Merced.
San Francisco. A Colonial architectural complex from the sixteenth century.
Franciscan Monastery of La Recoleta. Founded in 1648.
Colonial mansions. The most important are Casa del Moral, Casa Tristán del Pozo, Casa de Irriberry, Casa del Pastor, and Casa Goyeneche.
Yanahuara. At 2 km (1.2 ml) from the city, this quarter is famous for its churches built in Andalusian style.
Cayma. At 3 km (1.8 ml) from the capital, this district is very well-known for its picanterías (typical local hot food restaurants). There is also a beautiful seventeenth century church, and an extraordinary panoramic view of Arequipa.
Yura Thermal Baths. Located at 30 km (18.5 ml) from the city, the waters come from inside the Chachani volcano. Near the city of Arequipa the curative water springs of Jesús and Socosani are also found.
Sabandía, a valley with the most crystalline natural waters of the region. There is a seventeenth century mill still working.
PRINCIPAL ATTRACTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AREQUIPA
Cañón del Colca. This is a canyon located in the province of Cailloma. It has a depth of 3,400 mt (11,000 ft) and is one of the deepest in the world. To get there one must go behind the Misti and Chachani volcanoes, as well as through the vicuña reserve of Pampa Cañahuas.
Valle de Majes, in the province of Castilla. The Toro Muerto petroglyphs are located in this valley, with 5,000 large stones representing geometric figures, flora and fauna.
Valley of the Volcanoes. Located in Andahua at 337 km (235 ml) from Arequipa, this valley has an incredible landscape formed by approximately eighty small volcanoes, resembling the surface of the moon.
Santuario Nacional de Lagunas de Mejía. Located in the Coast at 20 km (12.5 ml) from Mollendo, this national sanctuary of 690 hectares includes waters of different grades of salinity, swamps, cat-tale fields, salt pits, and gramadales or grama grass fields. It is possible to find almost 157 bird species.
Sumbay Caves. These caves are located at 88 km (55 ml) from the capital. In spite of time, inside these caves there are valuable rupestrian paintings of the Paleolithic period. Human figures, Peruvian ruminants and pumas, among other designs, are represented in the rocky walls.
Imata Stone Forest. This very original rocky formation, located in the road to Puno, is a complex of natural stone columns, giving the appearance of a mysterious, enchanted and petrified forest.
TYPICAL DISHES AND BEVERAGES
The food in Arequipa has reached international fame. It has the greatest variety in relation to the rest of the departments of Perú. It is distinguished by its good flavor, seasoning and the use of chili, which is why restaurants are called picanterías.
Its food is so diverse that there is a different soup each day, presented as a broth or chupe (a thick soup).
The following dishes, based on either shrimp, pork, guinea-pig, cheese and hot pepper, are among the most well-known: chupe de camarones, ocopa arequipeña, rocoto relleno, adobo de chancho, soltero de queso, pastel de papa, costillar frito, cuy y conejo chactado, cauchi and chaque. As dessert, the iced cottage cheese is recommended, and to drink the chicha de jora, the local beer or anise of the region.