Santa Catalina Monastery- Arequipa, Peru
Attractions of South America e-Book


Arequipa lies on an altitude of 2,380 meters (7,740 feet) above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. It was built near the snow-capped volcano El Misti (5,822 m./19,101 ft.). The city is known as "la ciudad blanca" (white city) due to the fact that many colonial houses were built with white volcanic rock.

The major attraction of Arequipa is the wonderful Santa Catalina Monastery, one of the most beautiful monasteries of South America. It is a city within a city. One part is now open to the public to enjoy.

The modern city of Arequipa was founded on 15 August 1540, by Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, an emissary of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

As the second largest city in Peru, Arequipa is influenced by both Andalusian and Spanish Colonial ideas and architecture, such as the popular Santa Catalina Monastery, the Goyeneche Palace and the Casa del Moral.

Plaza de Armas in Arequipa - Peru Arequipa's Cathedral occupies a full side of the Plaza de Armas. Built out of 'sillar', it has a neo-renaissance style, with two stylized bell-towers and a Gothic arch. You'll find a Loret organ from Belgium inside and an outstanding wooden pulpit carved in 1879 by Boisini-Rigot from Lille (France).

The Plaza de Armas is the focus of urban life and evening activities of Arequipa, this elegant grand square features graceful colonnades, swaying palms and lush gardens.

The amazing Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa is a masterpiece of colonial architecture. It is a large complex of rooms, picturesque plazas, ornate fountains and a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets. A must see when you are in Arequipa.



Other attractions of Arequipa are:

Priests are followed by policemen carrying a statue of Our Lady through the streets of Arequipa in Peru Museo Santury, museum of the archaeology of the Andes, with videos and sometimes displays, of mummies found in the region.

San Francisco Plaza, church and monastery from the 16th century.

Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries), a highlight of Arequipa, this museum’s main attraction is Juanita, a little girl who was ritually sacrificed by the Incas. Her frozen body was unearthed in a volcanic explosion. This young girl’s miraculously preserved DNA has provided priceless insight into the Inca civilization.

Monasterio de la Recoleta, this 17th century convent has been rebuilt several times due to earthquake damage. Now a museum, its rooms contain mummies, masks and souvenirs collected on missionary travels.

Casa del Moral, this meticulously restored 18th century mansion in Arequipa is filled with period furniture, paintings and sculptures. Its name is derived from the moral (mulberry) trees that grow in its courtyard.


In the surroundings of Arequipa I can highly recommend visiting the deepest canyon of the world - The Colca Canyon, if it is your lucky day you'll spot the most gracious flying animal of our planet...

Andean Condor

Andean Condor - Colca  Canyon, Peru The king of the sky, the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is an absolute stunning sight when spotted. It is the largest flying bird on our planet, with a wingspan up to 310 cm. (122 inches).

Condors are the national bird of Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and Peru and play important roles in the folklore and mythology of South America.

Its diet consists mainly of carrion and occasionally sick or young animals. The Andean Condor feeds on dead deer, squirrels, mice, rabbits and other small mammals.

The place to view the majestic Andean Condor is from the Cruz del Condor at the Colca Canyon near the city of Arequipa in Southern Peru. The condors start taking to the sky from below the lookout area. Watching a condor soar through the sky takes your breath away.



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© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire