Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page
CIARQ Archaeology of Arequipa Peru (Center for Archaeological Research in Arequipa)
Arequipa, the white city (InfoPeru)
Para ti querida Arequipa... (enrique.rodriguez@interweb.be)(spanish only)

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 2000
Size of heritage: 167 ha
- Buffer zone: 165 ha

Longitude: -70,467°
Latitude: -15,600°


The historic centre of Arequipa, built in volcanic sillar rock, represents an integration of European and native building techniques and characteristics, expressed in the admirable work of colonial masters and Criollo and Indian masons. This combination of influences is illustrated by the city's robust walls, archways and vaults, courtyards and open spaces, and the intricate Baroque decoration of its facades.

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Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa, located in the Province of Arequipa, Peru, is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the rich history and architectural beauty of the region. This historical center is renowned for its well-preserved colonial buildings, impressive churches, and its unique blend of Spanish and indigenous influences.


The city of Arequipa was founded in 1540 by the Spanish conquistadors, who were attracted to the area due to its strategic location and fertile lands. The city quickly became an important commercial and cultural hub in the region, attracting settlers from various backgrounds.

During the colonial period, Arequipa experienced a significant architectural boom, resulting in the construction of numerous grand buildings and churches. The city's architecture is characterized by its use of sillar, a white volcanic stone that gives the buildings a distinctive appearance. This fusion of Spanish and indigenous architectural styles is known as the "Arequipeña School."

Over the centuries, the city faced several natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. However, the Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa has managed to preserve its architectural heritage despite these challenges.

Current State

The Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa is a vibrant and bustling area that continues to be the heart of the city. It covers an area of approximately 332 hectares and is home to numerous well-preserved colonial buildings, including the Santa Catalina Monastery, the Cathedral of Arequipa, and the Church of the Society of Jesus.

The Santa Catalina Monastery, founded in 1579, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Arequipa. This religious complex covers an area of 20,000 square meters and is a fascinating blend of architectural styles, ranging from Mudéjar to Renaissance. The monastery's colorful facades, narrow streets, and tranquil courtyards provide visitors with a glimpse into the lives of the nuns who once resided there.

The Cathedral of Arequipa, built between 1621 and 1656, is another architectural gem within the historical center. Its imposing facade, adorned with intricate carvings and statues, is a testament to the city's religious and cultural significance. Inside, visitors can admire the stunning altarpieces, religious paintings, and the crypts of prominent figures from Arequipa's history.

The Church of the Society of Jesus, constructed in the 17th century, is renowned for its Baroque facade and its stunning interior. The church's ornate altarpieces, intricate woodwork, and beautiful paintings make it a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts.

Today, the Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa is not only a tourist attraction but also a vibrant neighborhood where locals live, work, and socialize. The area is filled with charming plazas, lively markets, and traditional restaurants that offer a taste of Arequipa's rich culinary heritage.

In recognition of its outstanding universal value, the Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. This designation has helped to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the city's architectural heritage and has contributed to its ongoing conservation efforts.

Visiting the Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa is like stepping back in time, where the past and present seamlessly coexist, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience in the heart of Peru's cultural heritage.