The White City

The Misti Volcano watches over Arequipa
We began our ascend into the Andes with a visit to the city of Arequipa (elevation 7,661 feet above sea level), which sits on a mountainous desert at the foot of the Misti volcano.  My first thought upon arriving in Arequipa was that we had reached a different country, the thick fog of Lima was now replaced by the crisp mountain air and burning sun, and instead of the capital's cacophony, we were surrounded by the cadences of the ancient Quechua tongue.
The Chanchani Volcano peeks behind the walls of the Monastery of Santa Catalina.

A Quechua woman weaves alpaca wool.
The modern city of Arequipa was founded by the Spanish in 1540, and its buildings were constructed of Sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock also known as Tuff or Tufo that shines white in the blinding sun and gives Arequipa its popular name of "Ciudad Blanca" (White City).
The university.
Architecture in Arequipa is one of contrast between simplicity and exuberance, red and blue, light and shadow, heat and cold.  The streets are lined by thick stone walls rhythmically punctuated by ample doors that lead into unsuspected, sunny courtyards, about which the shaded rooms of the buildings are disposed.
The Church of the Jesuits.
The Church of the Jesuits.
A colonial house.
A colonial house.
Earthquakes are frequent in Peru and Arequipa has not been immune to them, evidence of this is the (relatively) new interior of the Cathedral, which dates to the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral of Arequipa, Peru.
The Cathedral of Arequipa, Peru.
Arequipa is full of treasures like the wonderful Museo de Santuarios Andinos where sacrificial victim "Juanita" rests in her frozen sleep, or the labyrinthine Monasterio de Santa Catalina where the cloistered nuns built a city within a city, or the wonderful Arequipeña cuisine!
The Monastery of Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru.

Chupe de Camarones at chef Gastón Acurio's "Chicha"
But of all that Arequipa has to offer, my favorite pleasures were to sit under the arcades of the Plaza de Armas watching the city stroll past me, or to get lost in the uphill streets of the Yanahuara, where the air is still and the city turns quiet.
Paseo de la Catedral in Arequipa, Peru.
Street in the Yanahuara disctrict of Arequipa, Peru.
All images by Nadia Palacios Lauterbach and John Lauterbach. For more images of Arequipa visit Dear Polia's Facebook Albums

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