Situated at the foot of an ice-capped volcano known as El Misti, the city is renowned for having one of the most pleasant settings and best climates in the country. Many of the buildings are made from sillar, a white volcanic rock, which together with an average of 300 days of sun a year give the city its light and charm. Some buildings, particularly the cathedral in the main square, were damaged by a 2001 earthquake, but much of the damage has been repaired.
The city center offers lovely examples of colonial architecture, including the Casona Flores del Campo, the Jesuit Cloisters and the Santa Catalina Convent and La Recoleta Monastery.
Arequipa is also known for its cuisine, including a flavorful chowder-like soup of river shrimp, and ocopa, a spicy sauce served on potatoes. These and other specialties can be found at picanterias, traditional Peruvian eating houses.
The Colca Canyon, some 125 miles (200 km) and five hours by bus from Arequipa, has gained importance as a tourist attraction in recent years. It is one of the deepest canyons in the world. Steep, pre-Inca terraces, herds of llamas and the colorful dress of Colca’s indigenous inhabitants make it a great multi-day sightseeing tour to combine with Arequipa. Treks can also be made into the depths of the Colca Canyon, which has become famous for sighting giant, soaring condors.
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