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.