“When the moon separated from the earth, it forgot to take Arequipa,” or so the local saying goes.  Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru, is the city of white…all of the old buildings were constructed using an off-white volcanic rock called silliar that shines like the moon. The white rock is easy to carve, so the architecture has a lot of ornately carved stonework.

Arequipa was the most important colonial city in Southern Peru from its founding by Pizarro in 1540 to 1821 when Peru claimed its independence from Spain. During the colonial period many extravagant churches and elaborate monasteries were built. The largest church on the main square is the extends across the entire plaza, and many finely carved ornaments adorn the exterior.

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The Santa Catalina Monastery of Dominican Order Nuns was built in 1579 as a cloistered city within Arequipa and held 450 nuns at its peak, most nuns came from wealthy families. It was tradition in colonial times for the 2nd daughter of local Spanish families to  become nuns and with them came a dowry equivalent to $150k in today’s money. All this wealth allowed for the monastery to build a very beautiful collection of buildings and arcades.

We spent half a day touring the monastery, here are some of the photos:

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Here are some more photos from around Arequipa:

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