Arequipa is the second-largest city in Peru. It was the first city where I spent some “real” time since I arrived in Peru.
Wilmar, who guided me on this part of the trip, waited for me at the airport. He brought me to my hotel in Arequipa. That was the Hotel San Agustin Posada del Monasterio. It’s conveniently located in the heart of this city. I dropped my bags in the room, started charging my batteries for the cameras, and went to visit Arequipa!
Lima is considered a dangerous city. Arequipa has a way better reputation. During my visit, Arequipa seemed to be a safer city. It’s still Peru, and it’s still South America, so I take the regular precautions. When you visit Arequipa, you will not flash cash or valuables. I never felt in danger or harassed.
Plaza de Armas
Arequipa is built in the same way so many towns and cities in Peru are. The Spanish had a center square, called Plaza de Armas, where the people would gather, with their weapons (armas) when danger was expected. The main church of the town can be found on that same square. A fountain stands in the center of the square. When you visit Arequipa, you’ll see it’s no different here. Especially at the end of the day, this place is crowded. Tourists taking their pictures, couples on their date, families reuniting after work. It’s the hub of social life in Arequipa.
The whole north side of the Plaza de Armas is occupied by the Cathedral of Arequipa. The history of this building starts shortly after the Spaniards make it here, and reads from then on as an earthquake happens, the church gets damaged or destroyed, and again rebuild, and a new earthquake starts. The most recent earthquake, that damaged one of the towers, happened in 2001.
A Belgian Organ
Being a Belgian, I’m always extra curious when I see influences that link back to my roots. It was a surprise to find that the organ in the Cathedral of Arequipa has Belgian roots. The organ was built by the famous organ builder Loret. Francois Bernard Loret made no less than 300 organs. Most of his instruments can be found in the low countries.
The scientist Don Mariano Eduardo de Rivero and Ustáriz, who came from Arequipa, was appointed to the position of Consul of Peru in Belgium in 1850. (some sources say 1851). He seems to have met Loret in 1852, and that was the start of the history to get an organ from Belgium in Arequipa.
I’ve been looking for further details in the church and later online. Not much information found so far. I will update here, or make a separate article if I get lucky. If you know more about this, please use the comments section below.
Church of the Company
When you walk to the Southeast corner of the Plaza des Armas, and you take the Santa Domingo street, you’ll immediately see on your left a church with a stunning amount of detail in the outside decoration. This is the Church of the Company (La Compañía). You cannot visit Arequipa and not take the time to see this church.
Monastero Di Santa Catalina
North of the Plaza de Armas is the Monastry of Saint Catherine (Monastero Di Santa Catalina). Walk up in thein the Santa Catalina street: it’s on the left. I visited it after I returned from my trip in the mountains. You can see my images and my review of the Monastero Di Santa Catalina here. The convent is still in use. The parts you can visit are the historical parts. The nuns live in a sperate part of the convent.
Paseo de la Catedral
There’s a small street behind the cathedral. Very popular among tourists and young hipsters in Arequipa. Coffee bars, restaurants, and terraces.
Outside the historical center
Once you leave the historical center when you visit Arequipa, you’ll find that not all areas in this city are as safe or as pretty. Take a taxi (pre-ordered!) to discover these areas.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.