Plaza de Armas


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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arequipa attractions

1. Museo de la Catedral

0.04 MILES

A must for visitors who want to see more of Arequipa's cathedral, the included 45-minute bilingual tour of this 'museum' is actually a peek at the inner…

2. La Catedral

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This beautiful building on the Plaza de Armas stands out for its stark white sillar (volcanic rock) and massive size – it's the only cathedral in Peru…

3. Iglesia de La Compañía

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If Arequipa’s cathedral seems too big, an interesting antidote is this diminutive Jesuit church on the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas. Proving…

4. Casona Iriberry

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It's worth a peek inside this casona (large house); the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA) is located within its 18th-century colonial halls and…

5. Museo Santuarios Andinos

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There’s an escalating drama to this theatrically presented museum, dedicated to the preserved body of a frozen ‘mummy,’ and its compulsory guided tour …

6. Casa Ricketts

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The ornate Casa Ricketts has served as a seminary, archbishop’s palace, school and home to well-to-do families since it was built in 1738. Today it is the…

7. San Ignacio Chapel

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This chapel's polychrome cupola is smothered in jungle-like murals of tropical flowers, fruit and birds, among which mingle warriors and angels. It's…

8. Iglesia de San Agustín

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This baroque church was originally constructed in 1575, destroyed in an earthquake in 1868 and then rebuilt by the end of that century. The exterior is…