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September 25th 2021
Published: October 2nd 2021
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Arequipa: The White City

Arequipa is known as the White City because of its architecture, built with white volcanic stone, called sillar.

Elizabeth gave a great insight into the history of this city. We learnt about the still-functioning Santa Catalina Monastery, constructed in 1579, like a city within a city. The Catedral De Arequipa, constructed between 1540 and 1656, with its ornate façade in the Baroque style, it's the only cathedral in Peru that stretches the length of a plaza. It also has a history of rising from the ashes. The original structure was gutted by fire in 1844, rebuilt and then flattened by the 1868 earthquake. Most of what we saw has been rebuilt since then. An earthquake in 2001 toppled one of the enormous towers and made the other slump precariously, yet by the end of the next year the cathedral looked as good as new.

A return visit to Arequipa where Elizabeth took us to Mundo Alpaca, Where you can see the Alpacas as well as a museum about Alpaca products processing, with machinery and final products. Just a short walk from Arequipa’s historical churches and monasteries past the street retailers & across a busy

Unfortunately we were unable to go inside the factory today but we were able to go to the back area where Elizabeth explained about the different types of South American camelids (primarily llamas, alpacas, and wild vicuñas). The seven different female alpacas all have distinctive coats. These animals each have personalities of their own too.

Elizabeth said she would return when the factory and retail shop another time when it was open.

It was a public holiday in Arequipa and we listened to some folklore music as part of the Equinox festivities.

Having recently taken tours with Elizabeth in Arequipa it was so interesting and fascinating to visit one of the Sillar quarry’s

Sillar is the whitish-pink volcanic rock that is common in the Arequipa region. Dating back to Colonial days, the rock was used to build churches and public buildings.

La Ruta del Sillar is a project started by the Centro de Investigación de Educación y Desarrollo (CIED) to increase tourism in the area and spread knowledge about the history of sillar in Arequipa.

Elizabeth explained about the different types volcanoes and how this white lava was formed during
volcanic eruptions. The use of this material dates back to pre-Inca times and lasted over time thanks to its lightness, softness and plasticity. These characteristics inspired the stone masons to sculpt both Hispanic and indigenous figures.

We saw a demonstration of how the rocks are split, no machinery is used in this quarry only hand tools are used.

Additional photos below
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