Peru's second largest city, but once in the center it has a small town feel and is beautifully surrounded by vast volcano's and mountains. Many of the buildings are made from sillar - a volcanic rock which gives the city its nickname - ¨The White City¨.
Arequipa has been built in an earthquake zone and many of the buildings have been predictably destroyed - each day there is at least 25 tremors!
One building that did survive - the Monasterio de Santa Catalina - was a huge city within a city, where the nuns had their own apartments and were generally having such a good time that it has now been scaled down to contain only about 30 nuns and has become a major tourist attraction. It was built in 1580 and is considered to be Peru's most fascinating religious building. Probably on the strength of this building Arequipa recently aquired Unesco Cultural Heritage status.
We stayed in an amazing hotel the Casa de Melgar - a beautiful colonial place - each room different and probably one of the best places we have ever stayed in. The many resturants also served great local food and Arequipeña beer!