Arequipa is unquestionably one of the prettiest cities in Peru. Founded in 1540 by the Spanish conquistadors, it is now home to just over one million people, making it the second largest city in Peru after Lima. Arequipa has a distinct look thanks to the white Sillar stone, mined from nearby volcanoes, used in the construction of many of its buildings. For this reason, Arequipa is known as the White City. The city is full of impressive colonial and Republican-era architecture, both in the city center and neighboring districts. And in the distance, you can see the peaks of surrounding volcanoes, most famously Misti, an ever-present reminder of the region’s volcanic activity. During our city tour, you’ll learn more about this fascinating city, one of the most unique urban centers in Peru.
After exploring the Plaza de Armas and surrounding streets, we’ll head to the most famous attraction in Arequipa: the 16th century Santa Catalina Monastery, which opened to the public in 1970 after nearly 400 years as a cloister. For a nun to enter the monastery, they first had to prove their Spanish origin and pay a dowry of at least 1,000 gold pesos. Once inside, they were largely cut off from the world within the sprawling monastery, which is like a little town all of its own...