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Arequipa: Peru's White City Shadowed by Misti Volcano

submitted on 25 November 2023 by

A City of White, a Heart of Gold

Arequipa, also known as the White City, is nestled in the Andean mountains of southern Peru, gracefully overshadowed by the mighty Misti Volcano. This picturesque city is not your typical tourist hotspot like Machu Picchu, but it's got enough charm to knock your socks off, and I ain't just whistlin' Dixie!Founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1540, Arequipa is a perfect blend of rich indigenous and colonial heritage. The city's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a veritable feast for the eyes with its stunning white volcanic sillar stone architecture. So why don't you take a little stroll with me through Arequipa, and let's see what this White City's got to offer, huh?

Gettin' Cozy with Misti Volcano

Misti Volcano, the quintessential symbol of Arequipa, looms over the city like a giant, smokin' sentinel. Towering at 19,101 feet, Misti is a stratovolcano, meaning it's built up by layers of hardened lava, volcanic ash, and other volcanic debris. It's also still considered active, so you might be sharing a cup o' joe with the locals while ol' Misti lets off some steam in the background!For those of you looking to get up close and personal with Misti, there are guided treks available. But let me warn you, my adventurous friends, it ain't a walk in the park! Climbing Misti requires stamina, determination, and warm clothes. After all, you don't want to freeze your tush off while conquering a volcano, do ya?

Taking a Bite out of Arequipa's Culinary Scene

Now, if you're anything like me, food is a top priority when exploring new places. And lemme tell ya, Arequipa's culinary scene is finger-lickin' good! The city is considered the gastronomic capital of Peru, and it won't take you long to see why.Start your day off right with a hearty plate of rocoto relleno, Arequipa's signature dish. This spicy stuffed pepper may just put some hair on your chest, but it's worth every fiery bite. If you're feeling extra adventurous, try out a local favorite, guinea pig. That's right, my friends, the very same cute, furry critter you had as a pet growing up is also considered a delicacy in this part of the world. But hey, when in Arequipa, right?
  • Don't forget to wash down your meal with a glass of chicha, a traditional Andean corn beer that'll have you feeling like a true local in no time.
  • For dessert, indulge in some queso helado, which literally translates to "cheese ice cream." But don't you worry, it doesn't actually taste like cheese! This frozen treat is made from sweetened, condensed milk, cinnamon, and coconut, and it's as delicious as it sounds.

Wandering through Architectural Wonders

As you meander through the cobbled streets of Arequipa's historic center, you'll stumble upon a plethora of architectural gems. The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa, situated on the main square, is an imposing marvel of sillar stone, while the Santa Catalina Monastery is an enchanting maze of colorful walls and tranquil courtyards.While you're at it, be sure to visit the Church of the Company, La Compañía, a stunning example of Baroque architecture, adorned with intricate carvings and jaw-dropping gold leaf altarpieces. But don't get too distracted by all the heavenly architecture, or you might just miss out on the vibrant street life buzzing around you.

See the Lady of Ice: Juanita the Ice Maiden

One of Arequipa's most captivating attractions is the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries (Museo Santuarios Andinos), home to the infamous Juanita, the Ice Maiden. Juanita is a well-preserved Inca girl who was sacrificed on the summit of Mount Ampato over 500 years ago. Her frozen body was discovered in 1995, and she's now a permanent resident at the museum.Despite the somewhat chilling nature of her story, Juanita provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives and customs of the ancient Inca civilization. Just make sure to bring a sweater when visiting her, 'cause it's quite literally freezing in there!

So, Why Arequipa?

Why not, I say! Arequipa is a city that's got it all: stunning architecture, mouth-watering cuisine, and an ever-present smokin' volcano. So if you're looking to explore a lesser-known gem in the Land of the Incas, pack your bags and come on down to the White City. Trust me, Arequipa will have you dazzled and delighted in no time!
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