The Historic Center of Arequipa is one of the main attractions found in this region, which is why the Santa Catalina Monastery is the most outstanding structure recognized for being over 440 years old and being the perfect example of colonial architecture in Peru. Learn everything about the history of this place, its importance during the colonial times, how to get there, and more!
As well as many other important cities of Peru, Arequipa gathers history, culture and natural wonders ready to be “rediscovered” which is why you cannot leave behind this famous city during your trip through South America.
Among all the different things to do in Arequipa, the most in-demand activities are the Colca Canyon Trek and the White Water Rafting activity. But besides doing adventure sports, history and culture have prevailed in the so-called White City.
Please continue reading and get ready to know the most preserved Colonial structure that has captured the attention of local and foreign travelers throughout these years!
Santa Catalina Monastery
As aforementioned, Arequipa is famous for having the most visually striking historic center of Peru since most of its structures are made with white ashlar, a volcanic rock found in the quarries of the Chachani Volcano.
This famous monastery in Arequipa was built in 1579, and although its structure was damaged due to constant earthquakes it is still standing and stealing the show since 441 years ago. This well-preserved colonial gem has an extension of 20,000 km2 and it’s located a few blocks away from the main square.
It is known that around the XVIII century, the Santa Catalina Monastery hosted over 300 nuns and it was Doña María de Guzmán “The first inhabitant and prioress of said Monastery”. All of these devoted nuns lived there without any connection to the outside world, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they opened to the public.
As mentioned above, the white ashlar was a principal element during the construction of many colonial structures within the city of Arequipa. Therefore, the use of this white volcanic rock was implemented along with the pink ashlar found in the surroundings of the Misti Volcano.
If you wish to visit this beautiful site, you will feel as if you had traveled back in time while walking through this colonial structure. Its vibrant colors and imposing structures are what make the Santa Catalina Monastery so visually striking. Currently, the monastery is open to the public from Monday to Sunday, and remains as a paid tourist attraction.
How to Get to the Santa Catalina Monastery?
To visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, one must be in Arequipa, which can be reached by plane or bus. Keep reading to learn about the best way to get to Arequipa, Peru.
By Plane: If you don’t have enough time and want to arrive as fast as possible to the White City, then taking a flight could be the best option for you. Keep in mind that depending on the time of the year, flights could cost up to 200 USD roundtrip and currently, Arequipa’s airport only operates commercial flights.
It is worth noting that Arequipa has an altitude of 2,335 meters above sea level, which could affect you upon arrival. Therefore, we recommend you to rest for a few days to prevent any symptoms of altitude sickness.
By Bus: This is the most recommended way to approach altitude since you’d be ascending gradually and slowly. Arequipa is easily accessible from most of the cities in Peru, but keep in mind that if you wish to do this on your own, not many bus companies speak english and they frequently make stops on the way to pick up new passengers, which could be unsafe.
Peru Hop is famous for being the #1 bus company in Peru, recognized for its travel experience, safety and most importantly, its flexibility, which is why we highly recommend you to consider taking Peru Hop’s routes to Arequipa and uniquely discover the real Peru!
Once in Arequipa, you just have to find yourself in the historic center since the Santa Catalina Monastery is easily accessible from Plaza de Armas. From the main square you need to find the Santa Catalina street which is only 4 blocks away from the Basílica Catedral de Arequipa, about 7 minutes walking.
You could visit the famous monastery on your own, but it is not the same as walking alongside an expert. We advise you to take a city tour in Arequipa so you don’t miss the most important details of this historic center.
Unquestionably, Peru gathers the most exciting and enriching activities in South America. If you wish more information about Peru’s second largest city, we encourage you to visit Arequipa’s official website and make the most of your stay!