Exploring the streets of Arequipa
Located in southern Peru, the city of Arequipa is filled with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, delicious food, and proud and friendly citizens. Affectionately known as La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), many of Arequipa’s buildings are crafted of a brilliant white volcanic stone, making it a unique and beautiful place to see. The city’s reputation for spectacular architecture was what spurred Mark’s interest in exploring the city by foot, which he highly recommends to anyone who plans to travel to Arequipa.
Whether it is an organized city tour or independent exploration with guidebook in hand, wandering the streets of Arequipa is sure to be an unforgettable experience for visitors, Mark says. He suggests starting off in the city’s Plaza de Armas, where he began his journey. Surrounded by beautiful buildings the Plaza features a grand fountain which provides the perfect backdrop for a photo-op. Mark took advantage of one of the many benches to relax and watch citizens and tourists alike make their way through the Plaza.
The next stop on the walking tour is an obvious choice for Mark – the Museo Santuarios Andinos which displays Juanita, the mummy of a thirteen year old girl who was sacrificed to the gods and buried in a shrine, hidden for hundreds of years until she was discovered in 1995. Juanita is extremely well-preserved and allows travelers an opportunity to understand more about traditions of the Inca culture. Mark recommends that all travelers pay a visit to Juanita. Outside guides are not allowed into the museum, but it can be explored independently or in the company of a knowledgeable museum guide. Mark also notes travelers should be aware that Juanita is not always on display; however the in-depth history and information video still make the museum worth the visit.
Another interesting stop on Mark’s circuit is the San Camilo Market, which is a must-do stop during any Arequipa vacation. The market is full of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and other edibles and provides the perfect place to refuel, says Mark. His favorite treat happened to be a Jugo Especial (special juice) with fruit, milk, raw egg, and a dark beer. Though it may seem like an interesting combination Mark says this special juice was delicious!
After his fulfilling juice, Mark’s next stop was a recommendation from a friend – The Santa Catalina Monastery, one of Arequipa’s most famous churches, and a highlight of Arequipa for Mark. The convent operated for more than 400 years and housed nuns who lived in seclusion. Visitors to the monastery can wander through the seemingly endless rooms and explore the history of the church on one of the guided tours. Though the Monastery is open throughout the day, Mark suggests travelers visit around sunset. This way they can experience the Monastery during the day but more importantly at night when the rooms are lit up with candles and visitors can make their way to the roof to watch the sun set over the city.
Finally Mark recommends ending the day by enjoying a meal at the fabulous Chicha, owned by famous Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. Mark was able to try an Arequipa specialty, a Rocoto Relleno, which is a spicy stuffed pepper. As Mark highly recommends, “You must try a Rocoto Relleno when in Arequipa, and don’t forget to pair it with the classic Peruvian cocktail, Pisco Sour!”
Mark’s day was full of history, culture, and cuisine and he suggests all travelers add some time in Arequipa during their Peru vacation. Travelers can take a Colca Canyon tour, making it the perfect destination to add to your Peru itinerary. Contact one of our travel advisors today to learn more about Peru destinations.
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Peru for Less is a group of travel experts who live, work, eat, and breathe all things South America. Their inspiration stems from a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity that make this continent so special.