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The Southern Andes and Lake Titicaca Travel Guide

  • Photo: mevert / Shutterstock


Cradled by three steep, gargantuan, snow-covered volcanoes, the jaw-dropping white-stoned Arequipa (population 58,000), one of the most visually stunning cities in Peru, shines under the striking sun at 2,350 meters (7,709 feet). This settlement of 1 million residents grew from a collection of Spanish-colonial churches and homes constructed from white sillar (volcanic stone) gathered from

the surrounding terrain. The result is nothing less than a work of art—short, gleaming white buildings contrast with the charcoal-color mountain backdrop of El Misti, a perfectly shaped cone volcano.

The town was a gathering of Aymará Indians and Inca when Garci Manuel de Carbajal and nearly 100 more Spaniards founded the city on August 15, 1540. After the Spanish arrived, the town grew into the region's most profitable center for farming and cattle-raising—businesses still important to Arequipa's economy. The settlement was also on the silver route linking the coast to the Bolivian mines. By the 1800s Arequipa had more Spanish settlers than any town in the south.

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