Arequipa Things to Do Tips by acemj Top 5 Page for this destination
Arequipa Things to Do: 121 reviews and 261 photos
This church is slightly off the beaten path on northern edge of the center, but it's worth the short walk. When we were here, there was some restoration going on, but we were still able to visit with no trouble. The luminous interior glistens with candlelight and is really quite magical.
The church dates to the early 17th century, but was destroyed in a fire in the early 19th century and then rebuilt. There are some subtle elements of Andean and Moorish architecture to be found along with, of course, Spanish colonial style.
Address: Santo Domingo and Pierola
This church is located in a quiet square of the same name near the Santa Catalina Monastery. It dates to the 16th Century and is not the most impressive church I've ever seen. I enjoyed the quiet plaza outside more than the church itself. However, if you're here on December 8th during the city's celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, you'll see the church's Virgin Mary statue paraded around the streets of Arequipa on top of a carriage with devotees carrying flowers and candles and celebrating all night.
Address: Zela 103
Directions: near the Santa Catalina Monastery
Other Contact: Free to visit
The beautiful facade of this church is worth a look for its interesting architectural features. You'll notice angels with idigenous faces and Andean motifs in the carvings of birds and flowers. The stone is the beautiful white sillar that is used in almost all of the other buildings in Arequipa. Inside the church, you'll find 17th century oil paintings by Bernardo Bitti who was trained at a famous art school in Cusco.
To the left of the main entrance of the church, you'll find a spacious cloister that was once a a monastery but is now basically a shopping plaza with shops selling alpaca products and other tourist-oriented merchandise. You can climb to the second level of the cloister for some nice rooftop views of the church tower and the city below.
Address: General Moran at Alvarez Tomas
Directions: Southeast corner of Plaza de Armas
The Santa Catalina Monastery was founded in 1579 only 40 years after the Spanish arrived. It is one of the most peaceful spaces that I saw in my entire Peruvian visit. It's really more of a separate city within a city, created over time and reconstructed due to earthquakes and tremors over the years. The nuns who lived here (and continue to live here today - there are about 30 active nuns) were given isolated quarters that allowed them to pursue their lives of solitude and devotion to God. As you walk through the heavily walled 5 acre complex, you'll pass by these individual quarters, each with their own charm. There are separate courtyards (the Courtyard of Silence, the Courtyard of Oranges, etc) and there is even a cafeteria where you can sample the foods prepared here by the nuns.
Check out my travelogue for more pictures.
Address: Santa Catalina 301
Other Contact: 25 Soles admission
Ryan in the center of the plaza
The Plaza de Armas sits was once the exclusive domain of the Spanish colonists and the indigenous people were not allowed access to this portion of Arequipa. When you approach the square, you can still get a sense that it was once sectioned off from the rest of town and once you arrive, you too will feel you are in an exclusive place. The arches surrounding the plaza are topped with beautiful balconies and the imposing, but graceful cathedral gives the space an elegant feel. Behind the cathedral, you can see the snow-capped mountains that surround Arequipa.
Directions: Center of town
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