The guidebooks call Arequipa the White City, but we have rebranded it Sillar City. We think the alliteration gives it some deserved cachet. It is Sillar City to us because it is built largely of sillar, the beautiful white volcanic stone found in the region.
After Cusco and the Andes, we headed south and west to Arequipa, where we found a warm, dry city at 8,000 feet – delightful change after the relative cold of Cusco. The city is surrounded by 3 volcanoes, ranging from 18,000 – 20,000 feet. It has been wracked by earthquakes over the centuries so the majority of buildings are only one or two stories, except, of course, the churches.
(Click on the images to get a slide show.)
The historic architecture of Arequipa is classified as Meztizo Baroque, a combination of Spanish and native design and craftsmanship. The colors are vibrant inside the white walls. The floral and animal images reflect the influence of the indigenous people doing the construction.
The city prides itself on its food, which we agree is great and reasonably priced, and the city seems to like showing off its sophistication in comparison to Lima, a city 10 times larger. I found a fantastic spanish teacher and Bill, of course, found plenty of great visuals and another unusual place to work-out where he was the only gringo. One afternoon we took a chocolate class where we made stone ground organic chocolate bars – from the cacao bean to the finished product.
Next, we are back to Lima to really sink ourselves into that city after only getting a taste of it a month ago.