April 27, 2018 – Arequipa, Peru
We had a later start this morning so we did not have to roll out of bed before 8 if we didn’t want to. However, I woke up at 6:30 so I just went ahead and got up. It is a good thing that we came yesterday because there was a strike by group of laborers (we didn’t hear who), and the road on which we came to Arequipa was closed by the strikers for several hours. As it was, one of the streets here in town was closed by miners who were demanding their pay for the work they had done. To say that traffic was snarled in and around the city center is an understatement.
Our 1st visit was to a viewpoint of the city. It is a beautiful city. The Chili River runs through it. Along the river are terraced farms some of which were established during the time of the Incas. Our guide explained that Arequipa is known as the white city because of the white volcanic rock from which much of the city is built. This rock is also sometimes a pale shade of pink. From there we could see El Misty (The Gentleman) which is a volcano located near the city. The other volcano which could be seen from there was Chachani (The Beloved). This volcano sometimes puts out smoke but has not erupted recently. It is about 45 miles from the city.
The pressure between the tectonic plates of Latin America and the Pacific created some memorable dates in Arequipa. In 1687 and 1868 earthquakes destroyed almost every building in the city. Also the Cathedral and the San Francisco Church were heavily damaged. The biggest part of these churches date after 1868.
Our next stop was the Monasterio d Santa Catalina which is the home of the Santa Catalina Convent, a city within a city. In 1579, less than 40 years after the Spanish arrived in the city, the Santa Catalina de Siena Convent was founded. Since its inception, women from diverse social backgrounds have entered the convent to serve as cloistered nuns, never again to return to their homes and families. Originally only the wealthiest of families could send their girls here. It cost 200 gold pieces which was the equivalent of $100,000 in today’s money. Girls were sent at the age of 12 or 13 and were generally sent to atone for some misdeed that the father had done. Each girl had their own room and servant. They were not taught to read but learned the prayers by rote memory and with the aid of pictures painted on the walls which taught a particular prayer. At the age of 17, the girls moved into their own house. If they had sisters or other relatives in the convent, they shared a larger house but were allowed only one servant. They had to pray 30 minutes of every hour of the day. In the later 1800’s, the pope made them accept girls who could not pay the high price of admission. These girls were housed in a former church which was turned into a dormitory.
From there we went to the Plaza de Armas which is the city center. We viewed the Basillica Catedral from the outside. I think some were going back at 5 p.m. to see inside. We walked around the Plaza and also viewed the San Francisco Church which was closed for a private service of some kind.
We had lunch in a restaurant where we were supposed to have a demonstration of the preparation of some of the local delicacies such as cuy (guinea pig) and fried cheese with native potatoes. It was so busy that we didn’t get the demonstration which was all right with us because we were hungry and really didn’t want to wait to eat. Several people had the rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy peppers), but I chose deep fried pork cooked the old fashioned way. It was really good, but it was a huge portion. I couldn’t even begin to eat it all. I tried the chichi which is corn beer. I don’t know how to describe the taste of it, but I didn’t like it. It looked like beet juice. Coleen liked it so after she had drunk hers, she had mine as well.
After lunch, we had free time. Wally, Donna and I walked to the city market. We strolled through the meat/fish department. After that we found our way back to the hotel and called it a day until we met at 7 p.m. to go to supper at the same restaurant we went to last night.
One thing we have noticed that all the commercial vehicles not only have a license plate, but that number is painted on the rear of the vehicle as well as both sides near the back. We didn’t really find out why – just that it had to be done.
Tonight we enjoyed the Peruvian group again. I had the cuy (guinea pig) for supper. It was a whole one but without the head on it. I thought I had ordered the smaller portion. I ate what I could and left the rest. It tastes a lot like the dark meat of chicken. The service was slow because it is a small restaurant and there was another large group – probably 15 or so – as well as our group of 9. That made it hard for the kitchen to get everything prepared. When the food finally came though, it was hot and really good.
Tomorrow, we have to be ready to leave the hotel at 7 because our flight to Cuzco is at 8:48 a.m. So, I’m going to make it as early a night as I can after I pack for early departure tomorrow morning.
The Santa Catalina Convent is constructed from Sillar, a white volcanic stone quarried locally, the convent is considered the most important and impressive colonial structure in the city. The continual earthquakes and tremors suffered by the region have forced changes in its structure, and, therefore, has some singular architectural characteristics. The nuns constructed private cells within the convent where they could lead isolated lives protected by high walls sheltering them from the surrounding city. Behind these walls a mixture of colonial Spanish and native architectural styles have been preserved. The convent was damaged in the 1958 and 1960 earthquakes but has been restored. It opened to the public in 1970, the 430th anniversary of the city’s founding in 1540. Today about 20 nuns still live in the convent and are supported by the fees which people pay to visit the convent.
The most celebrated of the nuns is the Blessed Sister Ana de Los Angeles Monteagudo. She lived in the convent until her death in 1686. She escaped to the convent at the age of 12 to avoid an arranged marriage. Her father forbade her to go to the convent and refused to pay her entry fee after she had fled there. An uncle who had sympathy for her paid the fee. In 1985 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Various miracles and predictions are attributed to her. She currently has a cult following. There is hope that one day she will achieve sainthood.
Arequipa is the capital and largest city of the Arequipa Region and the seat of the Constitutional Court of Peru. It is Peru's second most populous city with 861,145 inhabitants, as well as its second most populous metropolitan area as of 2016, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics.
Arequipa is the second most industrialized and commercialized city in Peru. Its industrial activity includes manufactured goods and camelid wool products for export. The city has close trade ties with Chile, Bolivia and Brazil.
The historic center of Arequipa spans an area of 820 acres and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its historic heritage, natural scenery and cultural sites make the city a major tourist destination. Its religious, colonial and republican architectural styles blend European and native characteristics into a unique style called "Escuela Arequipeña".
A local tradition states that Inca Mayta Capac received a petition from his subjects to reach the valley of the River Chili. They asked him for permission to stay in the region as they were impressed by the beauty of the landscape and the mild climate. The Inca answered "Ari qhipay" (Quechua: "Yes, stay"). However, another similar tale states that when the first Europeans arrived to the valley, they pointed at the ground and asked for the name of the land. The local chief, not understanding the question, assumed they were asking for a permission to sit down and gave a positive answer which sounded like "Arequipa".
Chroniclers Blas Valera and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega suggested that the name of the city came from an ancient Aymara phrase, "ari quepan", supposedly meaning "trumpet sound", in reference to the sound produced from blowing into an empty conch-like seashell. Another possible origin of the city's name comes from the Aymara language phrase "qhipaya ari" or "Ari qipa" (from 'ari': acute, sharp or pointed; and 'qhipaya': behind), which translates to "behind the peak," referring to the nearby volcano, Misti.
The early inhabitants of the Arequipa City area were nomadic people who relied on activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering for survival. Later, pre-Inca cultures domesticated llamas and became sedentary with the development of agriculture. During this time, major irrigation channels were built within the valley of the Chili River which allowed the development of agriculture by means of terraces built on both sides of the valley. The Yarabaya and Chimbe tribes settled in the city's current location, and together with the Cabana and Collagua tribes they developed an agrarian economy in the valley.
When the Inca Mayta Capac arrived in the valley of the Chili River, he didn't build cities. Instead, he gave orders to his mitimae (settlers from lands within the Inca empire) to settle in the valley to gain control of the existing population, perform intelligence tasks and strengthen border enclaves as a way to control the unconquered villages. An Hispanic version of the events, detailed by chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, which has been described as historically inaccurate, suggests that around 1170 Huayna Capac stopped with his army in the valley of the Chili River, which he called Ari qepay – an expression meaning "let's stay here". Lands were then distributed among three thousand families who founded the towns of Yanahuara, Cayma, Tiabaya, Socabaya, Characato and others, towns that still exist nowadays.
The Spanish foundation of Arequipa was performed on 15 August 1540 by Garci Manuel de Carbajal in the valley of the Chili River as "Villa de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora del Valle Hermoso de Arequipa" in an area occupied by some Native American villages. At the time of its foundation, Arequipa already had a city council, because the foundation of the town occurred in part as a relocation of Villa Hermosa de Camana, a coastal city. The name was partially conserved as Villa Hermosa de Arequipa. Charles V of Germany and I of Spain gave the town a status of 'city' by Royal Decree on 22 September 1541. He awarded it a coat of arms on which a mythical animal carries a banner with the inscription Karlos V or Del Rey.
The relocation efforts were led by Garci Manuel de Carbajal, who was selected as the political authority for the foundation of the new town. Among the first public works carried out in the city are the Main Church, the City Hall, the bridge on the Chili River and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia.
Since its Spanish founding and over three centuries, the population of the city was mostly of Spanish origin, which represented a strong following of Spain. One aspect that distinguished Arequipa from the rest of the country was the particularly explicit and public commitment of the city to the Spanish Crown, a phenomenon called fidelismo. Among its most remarkable defenders were Francisco de Paula Quiroz, Mariano de Rivero, Nicolás Fernández, and José Miguel de Lastarria. As a result, the Spanish Monarchy gave the city the title of Faithful by Royal Charter in 1805. Also, because of its distance from other Peruvian cities, Arequipa was not heavily influenced by libertarian movements. Although those libertarian movements (like the one commanded by Pumacahua) and pro-independence military troops entered Arequipa, the city remained under Spanish control until the Battle of Ayacucho (1824), due to struggles for local political power.
Its privileged location at the crossroads of the trade route of silver during colonial times and, after independence, the wool trade route, allowed Arequipa to accumulate administrative, commercial and industrial power. Moreover, from the early 1820s until the end of that decade, society in Arequipa, as well as in the rest of Peru, was in a transitional period right after its independence from Spain. Thus, Arequipa not only became the birthplace of significant political figures in Peru but also the scene of several important political movements that achieved national prominence which played a role in the defense of the legal and economic stability of the city thus establishing the importance of Arequipa as the country's second city and in frequent rivalry with Lima.
In 1835, President General Orbegoso moved his government from Lima to Arequipa by presidential decree on 13 January 1835. Meanwhile, in Lima, General Felipe Santiago Salaverry named himself Supreme Chief of the Republic, arguing that the country was leaderless, as Orbegoso was outside the capital. Orbegoso sought support from then Bolivian President Andres de Santa Cruz against the claims of Salaverry. Battles were held in Uchumayo, near the city of Arequipa, on 4 February 1836 where Salaverry won a victory, and Socabaya, three days later, where Santa Cruz defeated the Army of reunification under Salaverry, who gave up his sword under terms of surrender. However, on 18 February 1836, Salaverry and his 9 officers were shot in the main square of the city.
After expressing their rejection of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, the Chilean government sent a military expedition that reached Arequipa on 12 October 1837. To avoid a battle, negotiations allowed the signing of a peace treaty in Paucarpata, a small town near Arequipa on 17 November 1837. In the following years the city was the scene of uprisings and successive military coups which ended in the victory of the forces commanded by Miguel de San Roman against the army of Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco in the battle of Paucarpata on 29 June 1857. It was around this time that Arequipa gained prominence as a center of business and trade, focused in agricultural products and the production of wool, sometimes by means of exploitation of peasants.
After the occupation of Lima during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), President Lizardo Montero arrived in Arequipa on 31 August 1882, declaring it the capital of Peru. Also, Montero installed a National Congress on 22 April 1883 which was located at the Independence College. He also counted on military support from a local army and important financial support from quotas and taxes coming from the economic elite and the southern agricultural districts. However, on 25 October 1883, a popular uprising overthrew the government of president Montero, who managed to escape to La Paz. On 29 October Chilean troops occupied Arequipa. They were supported by authorities of the city, until August 1884.
The republican era brought many improvements to the city's infrastructure. The economic development of Arequipa was boosted by the building of the Southern Railroad which connected Arequipa with the port city of Mollendo (1871) and with Cuzco and Juliaca (1876). The first telegraph system in the region of Arequipa, which connected Mollendo, Arequipa and Vitor, was established in 1908. The first drinking water supply system for the city and an aqueduct were built in 1914. In 1940 the city's international airport, Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon, was opened.
In 2000, the historic center of Arequipa was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. An 8.4-magnitude earthquake, on June 23, 2001, damaged several of the historical buildings.
The origin of the crimson flag of the city has been a subject of debate among historians. By 1940, several historians, most notably Francisco Mostajo and Victor M. Barriga, firmly confirmed the royal origin of the crimson color of the flag, contrary to the blue banner proposed as the original by historian Victor Benavente. This matches the color used in sports activities in the city. On September 2, 1940, Francisco Mostajo sent a letter to the Mayor of the City to explain his views regarding the color of the Banner of Arequipa, basing his claims on the 'Act of the oath of King Carlos III “of 11 August 1788. On September 23rd of the same year, Father Victor M. Barriga also published an important document in the Catholic newspaper El Deber that contains a description of the royal standard of Arequipa found in the "Act of 3 September 1789".
The anthem of the city is called the Fourth Centenary Anthem. It was written by Emilio Pardo Valle with music by Aurelio Diaz Espinoza, who won a contest organized by the city council in 1939 for the creation of the music and lyrics of the anthem. The award was given in 1940 and the hymn has been sung ever since at all important civic events held in the city.
The city is located at 7,638’ above sea level, with the lowest part of the city being at 6,696’ above sea level in the area called Huayco Uchumayo while the highest point is located at 9,220’ above sea level.
The central part of the city is crossed by the Chili River from north to south. To the north and east of Arequipa are the Andes Mountains while to the south and west there are minor mountain ranges associated to the Andes. The valley of Arequipa, open toward the coast, plays a key role in allowing Arequipa to be a city that strategically links the coastal and highland regions of southern Peru.
A series of volcanic cones dominate the city skyline: Misti, and the extinct volcanic groups Pichu and Chachani. The western slopes of the Andes in the region feature thick layers of volcanic lava that cover large areas.
The climate of the city is predominantly dry in winter, autumn and spring due to the low atmospheric moisture and an effective precipitation corresponding to that of a cool desert climate. Arequipa has 300 days of sunshine a year on average. Throughout the year, temperatures do not exceed 77 °F and rarely drop below 41 °F. The wet season lasts from December to March and is marked by the presence of clouds in the afternoon and low rainfall. In winter (June, July), weather gets a little cooler and the low temperature drops to an average of 43 °F.
The average relative humidity is 46%, with an average high of 70% in the summer season and a minimum average of 27% during autumn, winter and spring.
The winds are influenced by a system of local winds and the passage of frontal systems of low atmospheric pressure, which are conditioned by the topography surrounding the valley where the city is. These winds occur mainly in the evening and early morning. Mountain breezes flow in a north-east direction, and, in the course of the day, valley breezes dominate with a south-west direction.
The global solar radiation recorded in the city ranges from 850–950 W / m 2 (watts / square meter) which is considered one of the highest levels of radiation in South America. This phenomenon is due to its proximity to the area of influence of the Atacama Desert and pollution at every stage.
On August 15, 1540, the Spanish founders of Arequipa designed the city plan as resembling a checkerboard made of fifty-six blocks, each one of "400 Castilian feet' (365.5’) per side. Each block comprised four or eight land lots, which were distributed according to the status of the new owners. As the time passed, some religious institutions came to occupy an entire block as were the cases of the Convent of Santa Catalina and the San Francisco Monastery.
The urban area grew at the expense of the countryside, a process that has worsened in recent decades. Arequipa expanded east of the historic center, new avenues like Parra Boulevard and Siglo Veinte Avenue were built to connect the historic center with the new neighborhoods or with already existing towns like Yanahuara which were being absorbed by the city expansion. Shantytowns began to appear in the district of Miraflores, Barrio Obrero and Jacinto Ibanez. New urban improvements were built as the city grew. A permanent marketplace was built in a vacant lot previously occupied by the San Camilo Monastery. The Goyeneche Hospital was built between 1905 and 1910. Two theaters (Municipal and Ateneo), a hotel (Hotel de Turistas), a public library and the campus of San Agustin University were also part of the city improvements built in the early twentieth century. Housing projects and new neighborhoods were also built.
In the late 1950s the city rapidly grew, especially the peripheral areas. Around this time, industrial activities located in areas of Barrio del Solar and Barrio Obrero, near the city center, moved outwards to the industrial zone (Parque Industrial), causing the former industrial areas to become commercial zones. Also some educational institutions that previously were located in the city center, such as the National University of San Agustin, moved to bigger land lots in peripheral areas in 1962 to accommodate their increasing facilities. Residential sectors also became established in peripheral suburbs which left the city center as a tourist and business district.
According to the census of 2007, the city of Arequipa, has 70% of the total population of the region of Arequipa and 90% of urban population of the region. One of the first population census in the city dates back to 1796 when there were 37,241 inhabitants which corresponded to 22,207 Spaniards, 5,929 Native Americans, 4,908 mestizos, 2,487 castizos and 1,710 slaves. At the end of the first half of the twentieth century the effects of the city improvements around 1940 were clearly shown by the annual population growth from 1.1% for the period 1876 - 1917 to 3.3% for the period 1940 - 1960.
In the twentieth century the city's population would increase from 80,000 in 1940 to 158,000 in 1961 in an unprecedented population growth process whose possible reasons have to do with the establishment of the first industrial companies, some of them involved in the transformation of agricultural products. The demographic trend was substantially supported by two factors: the earthquake of 1958 and the drought in the Altiplano which accelerated migration, urbanization, and peripheral city growth (suburbs and shantytowns) that lasts until today. The population growth was boosted by the rearrangement and improvement of urban space after the earthquakes which caused Arequipa's population to grow twofold in a decade. The 158 000 inhabitants in 1961, would be 309,000 in 1972 and almost 500,000 in 1983. The expansion of the urban area to previous rural areas incorporated subsistence farming actively into the urban cycle.
In 2007, the city of Arequipa had 20,595 students at initial level schools or kindergartens; 143,543 students at elementary schools and 219,305 at high schools. Arequipa has more than 15 universities. Nine of the universities have headquarters in the city; one of them being public (Universidad Nacional San Agustin). In 2007, a total of 70,894 students were enrolled in universities and 56,087 students were enrolled in colleges or technical institutes. Two institutions of higher education in Arequipa were founded more than a century ago. Seminario de San Jeronimo, a center of religious formation, has been in operation since 1622. While, San Agustin National University (Universidad Nacional San Agustin) was founded on 11 November 1828, it can trace its origins back to the Academia Lauretana de Artes y Sciencias, a college founded in 1821.
According to a government survey, Arequipa has the largest amount of "workforce" within the country amounting to 625,547 people, and an economically active population (PEA) which amounts to 376,764 people having a same employment rate as in the national average with an average monthly income of 928 soles ($298). The main economic sectors for the economically active population are manufacturing (12.9%), trade (23%) and non-personal services (36.6%). A metropolitan level unemployment level reaches the level of 8% in contrast to 5% unemployment in the city.
In Arequipa, tourism is an important boost for the local economy, as the city is the third most visited city in the country after Cusco and Lima. In 2010, Arequipa received a total of 1,395,000 visitors according to the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism.
Since the past century, many factories related to the primary sector, especially textiles and agricultural, have emerged in the city. This makes Arequipa an important commercial and industrial hub in the southern Andes serving as a link between the coast and the mountains. Large-scale mining, also contributes to the city's economy.
The city's industrial sector has the largest nationwide diversification and is the second most industrialized city of Peru. After two major earthquakes, in 1958 and 1960, with the law of the "Rehabilitation and Development Board of Arequipa" an industrial complex was built with one of the first factories being the Yura cement factory (Cementos Yura).
This first industrial complex named Parque Industrial de Arequipa now has a great diversity of factories ranging from consumer related industries (food and beverages) and construction (PVC, cement and steel) to chemical and export products (textile companies). Moreover, the city's industrial sector has expanded and other industrial complexes have emerged.
Arequipa, unlike other big Peruvian cities with mestizo and indigenous features, has been labeled as a "Spanish island in an indigenous sea". This is because of its regional cultural features which are more clearly defined than in the rest of Peru. It is described as a cultural and natural oasis. Culture in Arequipa is marked by the regionalism of its inhabitants; in fact, unlike other regional sentiments within Peru, Arequipa's regionalism was connected to the fight against centralism. This proud regionalism, expressed in numerous insurrections or revolutions have earned the city the nickname "Ciudad Caudillo" (Warlord City) or better explained by Peruvian historian Jorge Basadre: "Arequipa is a gun pointed at the heart of Lima", when making a reference to the antagonism between both cities.
The Constitutional Court is the highest authority regarding control and interpretation of the Constitution. It is autonomous and independent of other constitutional bodies. Subject only to the Constitution and the Organic Law, the court has seven judges elected by the Congress with the favorable vote of at least two thirds of the legal number of members for a period of five years. The city is the "Legal Capital of Peru" and "Official Headquarters of the Constitutional Court" as a result of a decentralizing project. Due to the military coup that occurred in Peru at the end of the 1960s, the initiative was abandoned. Then, it was retaken after the election of the Constituent Assembly in 1978. This time, the initiative did not succeed due to the high opposition, but later concluded that Arequipa would host the then "Constitutional Court", as stated in Article 304 º of the Constitution of Peru, 1979: "The Constitutional Court is based in the city of Arequipa ". Later, by the Constitution of 1993, the "Constitutional Court" was created, which, according to its Charter, is based in Arequipa.
The Old Town consists of 820 acres with 5,817 properties of which 500 are categorized as heritage properties. These were generally built in the nineteenth century on the site of earlier colonial buildings destroyed by the earthquake of 1868. The houses, usually made of ashlar, are characterized by semi-circular arches and vaulted ceilings. Ashlar structures always have thick walls: 40”-60” for rooms, 80” for churches. This volcanic stone, white or pink, exceptionally soft, lightweight and weatherproof, emerged as a seismic structural solution. The original city was built with adobe, masonry, sticks and straw roofs or mud pie. Houses of this type were made until the nineteenth century and were common in the eighteenth century, some remain in the original district of San Lazaro. Later came the brick and tile houses with tile found in the Monastery of Santa Catalina. The cataclysm of 1582 settled these systems and raised the earthquake reconstruction. Then came the ashlar as prime structural solution.
Camera repairs. Upon coming to Arequipa it is common that tourists come with broken cameras because of the sand in Huacachina. Reliable and inexpensive place to have your camera fixed just for 50 soles is a photo center, located at Calle Jerusalem 107, where they also exchange money. Look for the green label above the entrance as there are many similar studios nearby.