Arriving from Cusco or Puno, located high in the Andes, Arequipa will appear to you as a blooming oasis. The sun is shining, the palms are growing and with its positive charisma you will be fascinated immediately.
Because most of the buildings are made of the white sillar stone, Arequipa will differ from everything you have seen before in Peru – another interesting facet of this amazing country!
Arriving the central square, the Plaza de Armas, you will be overwhelmed by the busy city life! Especially on the weekend, this is a meeting place for everyone; old and young, rich and poor, traditional and modern, tourists and locals, street venders, photographers, everyone you can imagine…
Sitting on one of the small green banks, surrounding the beautiful fountain in the center of the Plaza, you will easily find someone to talk with, while watching hundreds of pigeons gathering for food. In the shadow of the impressive cathedral, you will observe romancing couples on the benches, small children having fun feeding the small animals corn and popcorn and families enjoying their time together.
You might buy a fantastic tasting ice cream in one of the stores around the plaza, or even try the “Quesohelado”, an Arequipeña specialty. Don’t worry, it ´s not frozen cheese like you may think , but an ice cream totally based on milk – and it´s great!
Ambling through the streets of the old town of Arequipa you will have problems keeping your eyes off the beautiful colonial buildings lining the streets. They will take you back to the time of Spanish colonization and it will feel like being in a small city in the south of Spain influenced by the nearby Arabic countries. Then you will arrive at the Monasterio de Catalina.
Reopened in 1970, after four centuries of mystery, the convent is “a small town inside the town”, with streets, beautiful gardens, a church, a gallery and little houses with dormitories, kitchens, etc. Their walls are painted in bright colors of blue, red or orange. From the roof of the church you have an amazing view over Arequipa, the volcano and the surrounding Andes.
After visiting the Monasterio de Catalina, please do not forget to make a stop at the busy market of Arequipa, a highlight in every Peruvian city. After getting used to the strange aromas, you will discover a world full of colors, exotic fruits and vegetables, meat, potatoes and handicrafts, loudly advertised by women in traditional clothing. This image, so typical for South America, will amaze you every day, in every city anew – as well in Arequipa.
When darkness falls, your day in the “White City” does not have to end. The plaza and the cathedral are beautifully lighted and you will easily find a restaurant with the excellent, traditional Arequipeña cuisine. After that you can have a drink in one of the bars around Calle San Francisco and later turn the night into day in one of the clubs or discotheques .Coming home early in the morning, you will go to bed with the good conscience that you enjoyed your time in Arequipa to the max – what a feeling!
By Hannah Fischer,