Arequipa’s main plaza, unblemished by modern interference, is a museum of the city’s sillar (volcanic rock) architecture – white, muscular and aesthetically unique. Impressive colonnaded balconies line three sides. The fourth is given over to Peru’s widest cathedral, a humongous edifice with two soaring towers. Even this is dwarfed by the dual snowcapped sentinels of El Misti and Chanchani, both visible from various points in the central park.
Arequipeños (inhabitants of Arequipa) are a proud people fond of intellectual debate, especially about their fervent political beliefs, which historically found voice through regular demonstrations in the Plaza de Armas. In mid-2015, protests and traffic were (controversially) banned in and around the plaza to make it more tourist-friendly. Naturally crowds still gather in defiant dissent.