My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #9: Arequipa

Arequipa is known as the “Ciudad Blanca” (White City) because many of its public buildings are made of a beautiful white volcanic stone. It is the second most-populated city in Peru. It is surrounded by snow-covered volcanoes and it looks stunning.  As usual, there is a Plaza de Armas, built on the Spanish template. This one was built in the 17th century and has much more architectural unity than some of the other Plaza de Armas. It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

This video is in Spanish, but you’ll get the idea:  (actually, it’s nice clear Spanish)

The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa takes up the whole of one side of the square. It has been damaged several times by earthquakes, and after the most recent one in 2001 the  left tower was completely destroyed and the right tower was badly damaged.  The altar and the twelve pillars are made of Italian marble, the brass lamp in front of the altar is from Spain and the pulpit was carved in France. The organ was shipped out from Belgium, and is said to be the largest in South America, but it got damaged on the way out and doesn’t sound the best, apparently.

It looks spectacular at night


Source: Wikimedia.   Creator: Bruno Locatelli

Historically, the Spanish population retained fidelity to the Spanish crown, even when the independence movement was afoot elsewhere.  In 1805 the Spanish crown gave the city the title “faithful” by Royal Charter. It remained under Spanish control under the Battle of Ayacucho in 1824 (which was later than many other cities). There has long been rivalry between Ayacucho and Lima.

Apparently, there is even a distinctive dialect, where they elongate the last vowel of the final word in every sentence.  And, unusually for South America, they use the ‘vos’ form of ‘you’ (replacing ‘tu’ and ‘usted).  They seem to use ‘vosotros’ too. I’d be doomed: I never bother learning the vosotros form.  Life is too short.

You’ve got to love a city that has the Chili River running through it. Unfortunately, all the city’s waste water is dumped into it.


Flickr: Santiago Stucci

You can go white water rafting on the Rio Chili, about 20 minutes out of the city where I should imagine the water might be cleaner. It advertises itself as being for “all ages” but nah-  you young ones go ahead and I’ll mind the baby.

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