Arequipa is one of Peru’s most historically significant cities, so it makes sense that there is no shortage of museums here. As well as artifacts and textiles that date back to pre-Incan civilizations, you can even find the remains of a preserved Inca sacrifice, kept in a glass freezer. Here’s our pick of the best museums in town.
Museo Santuarios Andinos
This museum is known for ‘Juanita’, the frozen Inca girl on display in dramatic fashion – visitors here finish the guided tour by seeing her on display inside a glass refrigerator. Upon entering the museum, you’ll watch a 20-minute video about Juanita, followed by the tour which reveals other aspects of the historic excavation that ended with the Incan maiden’s discovery.
Calle la Merced 110, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 215013
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
Though not technically a museum per se, this monastery is a living relic. The site was founded in 1580 by a rich widow – the monastery was originally intended for the wealthy to send their daughters to, along with amounts of money for the church. The monastery itself is often described as a city-within-a-city – as you walk down the narrow little streets surrounded by high walls, it feels as though you are in a city within Arequipa. While the monastery is still operational, guests are still allowed entryinto this remarkable landmark.
Santa Catalina 301, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 608282
Museo Histórico Municipal
In this museum you’ll learn about Arequipan and Peruvian history. The museum is broken down into different time periods, progressing from the pre-Hispanic to the formation of the country and through to the War of the Pacific. The museum is presented in an academic setting and gives you a thorough history of the country.
Mercaderes Plaza, 407, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 204801
Museo de la Universidad Nacional de San Agustín
This spot offers an eclectic mix of items that jump around through various time periods in Peru. The university museum has a collection of various pre-Incan archeological remains, as well as ornate colonial furniture and art form one of the most popular periods in Peruvian history, the Cusco School.
Álvarez Thomas 200, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 288881
Museo de Arte Virreinal de Santa Teresa
Like the monastery and La Catedral below, this a living museum, like so many things in Peru. The 17th-century convent is lavishly decorated with murals, antique paintings and distinct metal work. You can choose to take a guided tour or you can just as well peruse as you will, enjoying all the sights the convent has to offer.
Melgar 303, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 281188
Visitors to this impressive building can get a tour of one of Peru’s most dramatic and towering cathedrals. While fires and earthquakes have completely destroyed the original building, what stands before you today is nonetheless impressive. You can view its white sillar columns and Italian marble as you venture around the inside.
Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru, +51 54 213149
Museo Arqueológico de la Universidad Católica de Santa María
As with so many other museums in Peru, here you’ll find a collection of pre-Incan artifacts and ceramics. There are also descriptions of archeological sites throughout Peru that give some more context to the artifacts. Students will gladly show you through the museum for a small tip.