Santa Catalina Monastery , Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa was my last stop in Peru. My travel route was clockwise, for getting used to the height. Indeed, even if this city is located at 2328m, I didn’t feel AMS anymore. Arequipa is the 2nd biggest city in Peru. However, not just like the prototype of metropolis, the historic part of this city has its unique charm.
Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes. Since that, the old area of this city are with buildings constructed by local white volcanic stones called sillar. And it made Arequipa be known as “the white city”. Not only that, being influenced by Europeans, those buildings are constructed with baroque style. The historic area is really beautiful and has became a famous spot in Peru.
There are many things to see and do in Arequipa – the central market, the plaza or the cliff..But I would recommend Santa Catalina Monastery (Monasterio de Santa Catalina) as the first place to visit for sure.
How to go there?
As i mentioned, my route this time was clockwise – Lima->Cusco->Puno->Arequipa. From Puno to Arequipa was around 6-7 hours. The easiest way for visitors travel from the station to the city center is by taxi.
Well.. compare to Taiwan or USA, taxi in Peru is pretty cheap. However, you need to be careful to be cheated by drivers. For example, I paid 40 soles on taxi from airport to the city center in Cusco. However, the local told me it should be around 10 or even less…..lol. Not only that, my local friend told me taking taxi in Lima is kinda dangerous. Usually, the locals use the app to book taxi instead of waving hands on the road.
What to see?
Peru has strong historic influence by Catholic. There are many Catholic buildings, art, paintings and churches all over this country. One of the masterpieces is the one in Arequipa – Santa Catalina Monastery. This monastery was built in 1579.It was expanded in 17th, and now the size is around 20,000 square-meter. At its peak, the convent housed around 150 nuns and 300 servants- like a real village!!
Unlike those white buildings outside, the monastery is with walls painted in red, blue and yellow.And you can see delicate baroque frescoes paintings on the arches. Except vivid color, this place is well-decorated with flowers and tree. Walking through those narrow roads and seeing different colors through windows, i did feel like entering the world of genius or the magical smurf village.
For general admission, the ticket is 35 soles. The fee is included with entrance fee and a map. The monastery is open from 8am to 8pm on Tue to Thu. Other days are open at 9am to 5pm. Just go check the official website for more info about this place!
My final note..
Actually, i have no idea what to see and do as I arrived. I was totally out of battery and exhausted after the 7-hour bus from Puno to here. That day in Arequipa was the Valentine’s. Sweet couples were all over the city. Flowers,heart decorations and balloons made the whole city quite romantic. But it also made me feel quite lonely as well.
As long as i returned to the hostel and laid on the sofa, the host gave us dessert and hot chocolate. It was pretty warm and sweet for me – who has been alone traveling for a while. I had lots of fun in that hostel within the rest of the days!!
miss my dear host :**