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© 2008 Mark Collins
Peru 2004 - Day 2, Arequipa
A morning flight from Lima found us in the city of Arequipa which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
|Arriving at altitude for the first time in Peru, everything became an effort instantly! Alan had another setback as he cracked his head on the door of the minibus taking us to the hotel - not a great start!
The city was created following the Spanish conquest on 15th August 1540.
Arequipa is located in a volcanic area of the southern Peruvian Andes and three volcanoes dominate the skyline around the city with El Misti, a near perfect cone, being the closest at 5,825 metres.
The impressive buildings comprising the centre of the city are built of white volcanic rock called 'sillar'.
Our hotel, Sonesta Posada del Inca, forms one side of the main square (Plaza de Armas), with the Cathedral dominating another. Interestingly the Cathedral has its main front on the south side, parallel with the nave, in order to face the square. It is built of 'sillar' volcanic rock and has a neo-renaissance style with two stylized bell towers and a Gothic arch.
I include a picture of the hotel balcony, which slopes down to follow the ground contour, and which was a fantastic location to eat lunch and watch people in the square below..
On our first afternoon, a trip to a view point wetted our appetite for the Peruvian scenery and gave us our first close encounter with Llamas! This was followed by a fascinating visit to the Santa Catalina Convent, which is the only one in the world with its own citadel. It was founded in 1579 by the Dominican Order, closed to the public until 1970, and still houses cloistered nuns in reserved areas.
The convent is built in the form of a small town occupying an area of around 20,426 square metres. There are three cloisters, six streets and eighty houses where the nuns lived, a square, a church, an art gallery a cemetery and more.
There are more pictures of the convent in my photograph album here and here.
The washing tubs are ingenious, being made of large pots cut in half. To fill them, all that is necessary is to block the central channel with your hand which diverts the water down a pipe and into the pot.
After the convent we visited the cathedral, which apparently contains the second largest pipe organ in South America, built by Loret of Belgium. It also contains an outstanding wooden pulpit carved in France by Boisini-Rigot from Lille in France.
The building was packed as an Easter service was in progress and photography was impossible.
After the Cathedral we moved on The Church of La Compañía which was built by the Jesuits during the 17th century. It was completed in 1698 and has a wooden carved pulpit.
However the highlight is the ancient vestry, also know as the Sistine Chapel of Arequipa, which contains brilliant paintings by anonymous native artists who imbued the paintings with the colour, motifs and spirit close to their hearts.
|The final stop of the day was the cloisters of La Compañía de Jesus monastery which are now a shopping centre. The carving on the cloister stonework was lovely.
After a long day, we had a pleasant meal in a restaurant behind the cathedral where we were entertained by some rather dubious vocal entertainment by a boy in the street below!