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Arequipa, the White City

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 31-12-2021

Arequipa’s central Plaza de Armas, remains unblemished by modern interference, is in itself, a museum of the city’s architecture made of “Sillar” (volcanic rock). Its characteristic white, robust and aesthetically unique consistency, is why this city is locally known as the “white City” and is representative of the city of Arequipa. Impressive colonnaded balconies line three sides of the plaza and the 4th side is occupied by Peru’s largest cathedral, a humongous construction with two soaring bell towers. Even this is dwarfed by the dual snow-capped sentinels of the El Misti and Chanchani volcanoes, both of which are visible from various points in the central park of the plaza. 

Aerial view of Arequipa's main square

When you visit Arequipa, you'll see exactly in the centre of the square, there is a bronze pool that carries the sculpture of a pixie carrying a trumpet. The size of the plaza is what is possibly the most impressive and one of the main reasons to relax and enjoy this plaza is there is no vehicular access. So you can sit and enjoy the relative calmness of Peru’s 2nd biggest city. As is the norm in Peru, the plaza is the best place to hang-out, meet up with friends, catch up on the local news and lets the children run loose in this family orientated centre of the city. It’s a tradition to drink hot chocolate in the plaza, especially on a chilly evening or watch the activities from one of the balconies in the many restaurants situated on the plaza. 

Close-up of the central fountain


This UNESCO World heritage site has had its ups and downs and has survived a number of earthquakes over the years. The cathedrals towers have had to be rebuilt on a number of occasions, however you wouldn’t know it unless you had been told. Just down the road is the famous Santa Catalina monastery which is a city within the city and is definitely worth a visit if you are spending some time in this amazing city. The other main place to visit in Arequipa is the museum of the “Ice maiden” Juanita, the famous frozen Inca Mummy, found on the top of the Ampato volcano and still in a decent state of preservation. We invite you to discover these sightseeing sites in Arequipa with your own eyes, through our Arequipa City Tour!

Santa Catalina Monastery