After a lot of posts about the Incas, it was time to get some fresh air… We go down therefore toward the South, and for the first time since one month (since Salta in Argentina) we are at an atlitude lower than 3,000m… Arequipa is sitting at 2,335m.
The journey from Cusco to Arequipa was pretty straight forward with a night bus.
We arrive at Arequipa at 6am of the morning. We have done our first travel in Peru with Cruz del Sur bus company. Good service, clean bus and mainly the internet booking make it easy especially because we can choose your seat and pick up the less expensive one. But the on-board internet was working better in Philippines…
Once arrived, we found a budget accomodation following the advice given to us by Alex and Marianne (the couple we met during our trip in Botswana and Zimbabwe). The hostel is pretty much opposite Santa Catalina Couvent, the most popular attraction of the city.
A cultural and intellectual city
Arequipa is the second largest city of Peru just behind Lima. It has been created in 1540 by the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro.
If you want to compare it to Lima or Cusco, I would say the main differences are:
- It is a city where started most of the revolts in Peru
- It is a city famous for the people who were born there or lived there. They are mainly political, intellectual or political personalities.
For example, the man regarded as the father of modern rocketry science or even modern aeronautics, Pedro Paulet is born in Arequipa in 1874…
Please note that the whole historic center of the city has been declared as World cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
We have done a tour of the market (not really as good as Cusco market), visit the Plazza de las Armas and the main historical buildings, and this is done.
Pictures of the market:
Pictures of the Plazza de las Armas and Arequipa historic streets:
Done for us to enjoy our hostal rooftop with a great view over the entire city:
The Peruvian gastronomy
At Arequipa, we join Daniel, an Australian traveller we have met for the first time at the Salar de Uyuni, then with whom we climbed the Huyana Potosi, visit Copacabana, not far from the Isla del Sol. When we visit a continent like South America, you tend to meet always the same people. An other example was the guy from Israel we met for the first time at Iguazu falls, seen him at the Salar d’Uyuni, then in La Paz, Copacabana and finally in Peru a few weeks later.
This is so with Daniel we will go visiting the Santa Catalina couvent, but before this, we went for something that Caroline was more than keen:
“Taste the famous Peruvian gastronomy”
We head up to ZigZag restaurant that Caroline had found. It prepares a franco-peruvian cuisine such as this meat trio (Porc, Beef and Alpaca) that we had. Alpaca is like lama but much more tastier.
Once full, we went for a bit less than 3 hours of intense visit within the walls of Santa Catalina couvent.
The world largest couvent
Indeed, with 20,000km2 it is quite large like a city within the city.
It is in 1570, so a bit more than 40 years after the arrival of the spanish in Arequipa that the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena is built.
It has been built using volcanic tuff (the Misti volcano is not far). Unfortunately, Arequipa is located in a sismic area… In 1958 and 1960, the couvent had to be restaured following two disastrous earthquakes. The structure of the convent being too weak, the nuns had to move from the historic part to the northern corner where new walls were built. The historic part has been since 1970 opened to the general public. This convent could house up to 450 people.
It is in this convent that lived until 1686 (year of death) Sister Ana who has been canonized by Jean-Paul II in 1985.
Inside the convent, it is a crazy maze… where you can get lost if you don’t have a map with you. Walls are painted in blue, white or red… and you can enter the cells where the nuns used to live…
I let you discover a bit more through pictures below. On Tuesday and Thursady, the convent is opened from 8 am to 8pm which is quite good if you want to take some nights shoot. Don’t forget your tripod.
Blog you soon,