Oh, Beautiful Arequipa!
We have fallen in love again with another beautiful city.
I never imagined that a place like this existed in Peru.
But, then again, I had no idea what was in Peru.
When we set out on this journey, we casually believed that we would probably be best off avoiding every major city. We like the country, rural life, and wild, untamed places. We don’t like traffic, crowds, or noisy places. We figured it must be true that we would hate all big cities. And, we assumed that third world cities would be the worst.
But, funny things happen when you travel. Your eyes open, your brain expands, and your perspectives change.
We have seen some gorgeous cities by now. Peaceful, pretty, culturally-rich centers with incredible buildings, outstanding food, and pleasant people.
This has not just happened with cities, it has happened with many things. But, for us, the comparison of cities really stands out. How completely ridiculous it sounds now, to never step foot in any cities. To say we hate them all. Honestly, how completely absurd to have such limiting thoughts!
Can you believe that after 4.5 months in Peru, some of our favorite sites….are cities?? Yes, the first one was Cajamarca near Christmas time. A little later, we discovered Ayacucho – the city of 33 churches. Then, Cusco. Cusco was so great that we spent a month there. We laughed how Cusco was a city we could live in, and maybe we will one day. Us? Live in a city?!
And now, Arequipa. This incredible white city surrounded by snowy mountains and volcanos. It is full of bookshops, thrift stores, pedestrian streets, parks, and markets. Be still, my heart to find all of that living beneath so any stunning, white buildings.
Have you ever been to a special place that completely changed your views on life?
Arequipa is Peru’s 2nd largest city with a population of more than 860,00 residents. Many years ago it was the capital city of Peru, during 50 years in the mid-1800s. The UNESCO world heritage site is now approaching 500 years in age.
The historic community is known as the ‘white city’ due to the abundance of white stone architectural construction. The white stone blocks that compromise both old and new building are created from the locally resourced volcanic concrete.
In the beginning, during its first settlement, many of the inhabits were nomadic people crossing through the mountains with their camels. The high altitude location ( 7,683 feet above sea level), with an unusually warm climate, enticed many of them to stay longer than planned. Some of them even domesticated their animals and built homesteads, ending their journey of shepherdship.
Even in the early development of the city, the scenic, eternal- spring location attracted the attention of affluent people. The privileged folks hailed from Spain and Europe and came bearing gifts of Silver for trade. The Peruvian nationals came to the area to trade the unique, high-quality wools of their camelids. It is not surprising to learn that this influence resulted in some of the earliest developments of modern civilization.
The first railway opened in 1837. the first telegraph system in 1908, the first drinking water aqueducts in 1914, and the first international airport in 1941. Today, Arequipa is one of the most modern, commercialized, and clean cities in Peru.
As charming as the city is during the dat, the sunset hours are positively enchanting. As the perfect blue skies melt into the yellow and oranges of the setting sun, the streets and white buildings glow with the warm colors of candlelight.