Around Peru: Arequipa


Arequipa, with one of the neighbouring volcanos peeking out behind. If you look closely you can see that one of the towers on the cathedral is much newer than the other; the building was damaged in the last earthquake and one tower had to be rebuilt.

The next stop on my hop on/off bus trip was Arequipa. This involved a long, overnight journey from Huacachina, arriving at Arequipa 5.30 in the morning.

I arranged an airbnb in the city for four days, staying with a lovely older couple in their small flat. They were very good about me turning up early in the morning. However it did feel a bit like staying in Gran’s spare room; my room was full of random stuff in the drawers (letters, coupons, the odd bit of clothing) and over my bed was a picture of Jesus. The bathroom was full of stuff made with crochet and lace.  However it was considerably cheaper than my rooms on the previous two nights.

Arequipa is also known as the white city. This is because of the white stone particular to the region, quarried from the volcanos that surround the city.


No matter how many times I was told which volcano was which I still can’t remember.

It’s a very attractive city, good for just walking around and also shopping for things made with alpaca wool.

One of the most popular places to visit is the Santa Catalina Monastery.  Known as ‘a city inside a city’ it goes on for an entire block, hidden behind an imposing brick wall.


Convent of Santa Catalina, described as a city within a city and Trip Advisor’s number 1 thing to see in Arequipa

For the (somewhat steep) fee of 40 soles (£8/us$12) you can go in and wander around.  I debated whether to go in because it seemed a little expensive, but in the end I did.  It was well worth it.


Gets very busy 

The convent was founded by a wealthy  Spanish woman in the late 1500s, and parents paid a dowry to allow their daughters to go live there, equivalent to around $150,ooo by today’s standards. The women lived a luxurious life inside the convent, most with their own servants. At its peak there were 150 nuns living there and around 300 servants.


Sleeping quarters; looks more luxurious than most of the hostels I’ve stayed in recently


Not so keen on the bathroom facilities though

The convent was badly damaged by an earthquake in the 1960s, and so opened to the public in order to pay for restoration work. The money was also used to instal electricity.  A few nuns remain at the convent.


Although Catholic, the building has strong Moorish style, similar to many in Andalusia, Spain.

3 replies »

  1. Hi Sarah beautiful photos. I did like the look of the convent, but do not really think that is the place for me! But hey, you have Jesus in your life now so who knows lol. The scenery looks absolutely stunning and I just love the colours. Safe travels my friend xx

    • Ah this feels like such a long time ago now, because I am doing so much and not having time or internet to update. But yes, this was a nice place.

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