Arequipa, in its own quiet way, is Peru’s most beautiful city, and boasts of the county’s most astounding buildings. While a lot of buildings have suffered severe damage from the earthquakes that have hit Arequipa over the years, the city has a done a great job at repairing them. They have been restored to perfection and amount to one of Peru’s best architectural displays.
The Basilica Cathedral
You can’t miss it: it stands stall, occupying an entire city block and towering over everything. Only the volcano El Misti stands higher, far off in the distance. Its doors open onto the Plaza de Armas and invite visitors in for services and to tour its reconstructed interior. It’s recognized as one of Peru’s grandest cathedrals, despite it having been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt. Its all-white exterior and its sheer size make it a building you’ll never forget.
La Mansion del Fundador
The founder of Arequipa once called this magnificent mansion home, and it now stands as a living museum. You can tour the inside and check out all the artifacts that have survived over the years. The furniture has also been completely restored to give it a complete feeling of stepping back into the past.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
This monastery may just be the architectural highlight of Arequipa. It doesn’t have the size and sheer grandeur of Arequipa’s cathedral, but it’ll nonetheless leave you breathless. Guarded by high walls, it doesn’t seem like much from the outside, but once you are inside, you’ll discover a city within a city. There are colorful streets with beautifully maintained flowers and plants that only add to its enchanting quality. Every inch of the monastery is something to marvel at – even the bathrooms are remarkable.
The Plaza de Armas
You’ll feel transported into another world as you take your first step into the Plaza. It is made out of volcanic sillar, giving it its characteristic white color, and has been rebuilt after a couple of devastating earthquakes. The arches catch the eye, framing the plaza and the colorful gardens in the middle. It is a wonderful place to spend an evening, watching the sun set behind Arequipa’s mountains.
Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus
The cathedral and plaza get all of the attention, while this church sits in the corner, just off the plaza, minding its own business. It’s definitely not the main draw here, but upon further inspection you will realize that it, too, is remarkable. The church is intricately carved, with baroque styling. The inside altar is carved to perfection, and when compared to the behemoth that is the cathedral, this place offers a more personal approach to churchgoing.
Casa del Moral
This mansion was built in 1730 in the classic baroque style. The building is now on display as a living museum, where you can explore its colonial collections of art and furniture.