La Catedral

sights / Religious

La Catedral information

Location
Arequipa , Peru
Telephone
+51 54 23 2635
Opening hours
7-11:30am & 5-7:30pm Mon-Sat, 7am-1pm & 5-7pm Sun
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The history of the cathedral that dominates Arequipa’s main plaza is filled with doggedness. The original structure, dating from 1656, was gutted by fire in 1844. Consequently rebuilt, it was then promptly flattened by the earthquake of 1868. Most of what you see now has been rebuilt since then. An earthquake in 2001 toppled one enormous tower, and made the other slump precariously, yet by the end of the next year the cathedral looked as good as new once again.

The cathedral is the only one in Peru that stretches the length of a plaza. The interior is simple and airy, with a luminous quality, and the high vaults are uncluttered. It also has a distinctly international flair; it is one of less than 100 basilicas in the world entitled to display the Vatican flag, which is to the right of the altar. Both the altar and the 12 columns (symbolizing the 12 Apostles) are made of Italian marble. The huge Byzantine-style brass lamp hanging in front of the altar is from Spain and the pulpit was carved in France. In 1870, Belgium provided the impressive organ, said to be the largest in South America, though damage during shipping condemned the devout to wince at its distorted notes for more than a century.