Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa


Arequipa "The White City" - World Heritage Site by UNESCO


The city has a line to the usage of the old Spanish cities, with square blocks, as an immense chessboard.


Arequipa conserves one of the best architectural treasures in the colonial time of Peru, expressed maybe in its best way in the temples and religious convents and also in its beautiful elegant largehouses.


The features and architecture of this city were due to five factors: the isolation of the communication roads, the telluric movements (earthquakes), the ashlar, the wooden absence due to be located in a deserter area and their people's unbroken spirit.


Arequipa, know as the "White City" (Ciudad Blanca) was given because of the whiteness of their houses and buildings made in white ashlar, contrasting with the bright blue sky. The ashlar is a volcanic stone, easy to handle and of great resistance, which can be found a lot in this area of the country.


Plaza de Armas (The Main Plaza): One of the most beautiful plazas from Peru. In the center of this plaza is located a fountain with the statue "Tuturutú" on the top, which is an important symbol of Arequipa. Around it you can find important buildings with beautiful portals and colonnaded balconies, such as the City Hall, the Cathedral and an important church named "Iglesia de La Compañía".


Religious Monuments

Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena: Religious historic monument, monastery founded in 1579 in Arequipa. It was opened to the people partially in 1970. It is one of the most fascinating colonial religious building in Peru. A paradise for photographers.


Cathedral: (1621-1656) Located in the north front of the Main Plaza. Neo-renaissance style temple, designed by Andrés de Espinoza, built in ashlar, with Gothic vaults of brick, two stylized towers, in their interior there are jewels of great value such as the seat of the choir, the sacristy and a great organ. In 1844 a fire destroyed all the ornamentation of its interior and in 1868 it suffered serious damages caused by an earthquake, then it was restored. (Photo Gallery The Cathedral)


Iglesia de La Compañía: (1573) Old Jesuit Church, one of the most beautiful of the city. The strength of this construction had allowed it to resist almost all the earthquakes. Its main front is an artistic work, carved stone, filigree in ashlar, in a mixture of styles and with indigenous influence, it has lots of ornamentation. A temple of a unique nave, two laterals wings, a sanctuary and a high choir, to the left altar is the San Ignacio Chapel. In its interior altarpieces, three Baroque and golden altars, colonial pictures and a carved beautiful wooden pulpit of the XVII century exists. (Photo Gallery La Compañía Church)


Claustro de La Compañía (Cloister): (1660) Located at left side of the Iglesia de la Compañía, with arches of sculpted ashlar, beautiful corridors; also called Pasaje Romaña, and at the moment occupied by commercial establishments. (Photo Gallery La Compañía Cloister)


Convento de San Francisco: (1569) Designed by Gaspar Báez, temple built in ashlar and brick, of a single arched nave and a sanctuary with a dome. It has a beautiful choir made in stone in a mixture of styles. (Photo Gallery San Francisco Church)


Templo de la Tercera Orden: (1775 - 1777) Located to the side of San Francisco's Temple, it has the shape of a Latin cross with a dome. Its front is beautiful adorned with sculptures.


Iglesia de Santo Domingo: (1649) Temple built in a beautifully carved stone, with a polygonal tower. It was almost totally destroyed by the earthquakes of 1958 and 1960 and then restored.


Iglesia de San Agustín: The Temple has a beautiful sacristy, its dome is decorated in a mixture of Spanish and old Peruvian style, and in its interior you may find pictures with the characteristic style developed by the Escuela Cusqueña (Painting style created by artists from Cusco). Its main entrance is also sculpted with decorations and figures made with ashlar.


Iglesia de La Merced: (1607) Temple and convent, its front is finely carved in ashlar, it has a magnificent room of two naves, beautiful pictures, it is the largest of the whole city; it is annexed to Convento de la Merced. It has a very valuable Colonial library.


Museo de Arte Virreinal de Santa Teresa: Virreinal Art Museum, Church and Carmelite Convent. Constructed in 1710. Located in Melgar N° 303 (street) in Arequipa city. Daily visits from 9 am to 4:30 pm - admission S/. 10 (US $ 3.30 aprox). After almost 300 years of foundation, it is opened to the public since 2001. It leaves for the first time from this monumental architectonic set, to show the treasures kept throughout its three centuries of existence. More than three hundred works of art they are displayed in its twelve gallery rooms. Some rooms show their original style since still they are in use on the part of the nun to certain hours of the day. Other rooms display a thematic organization. Before visiting the monastery a return by the Room of Interpretation puts in key for the understanding of the techniques and materials to us used in the art of the virreinal period. The collections are varied: colonial-era paintings, sculptures, murals, metalworks, gold and silver jewels of religious art, and objects of daily use, all of them corresponding ones to centuries XVI, XVII and XVIII. (Photo Gallery Museo de Arte Virreinal de Santa Teresa and Monastery)


Colonial Large Houses (Casonas)


They are all built in ashlar, of lengthened fronts, which only had one floor and vaulted roofs, big patios, and doors with artistically sculpted lintels. Many of them have been acquired by private institutions and they are beautifully restored and maintained, we recommend to visit the following large houses:

  • Casa del Moral, one of the most beautiful and representatives of the city. (18th Century)
  • Casa Ricketts, (1738) old headquarters of the Seminar of San Jerónimo, also called Palacio Tristán del Pozo.
  • Casa Goyeneche
  • Casa Irriberry (1793)
  • Casa de La Moneda (1798)


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