May 22, 2010
Arequipa, one of Peru’s most beautiful cities and an increasingly popular tourist destination in the Andean country, is readying to celebrate 470 years of its Spanish Foundation. On August 15, 1540, the city was founded by Manuel Garci de Carbajal. The name Arequipa derives from a quechua phrase, “Arequipai” which means, “Yes, stay here”. A very proper name when you consider the charm of the city and the hospitality of its inhabitants.
Arequipa is located on Peru’s western Andes, at 2350 meters above sea level, at the foothills of the Misti Volcano. It is an outstandingly attractive colonial city, constructed to a good extent with a petrified lava material known as “sillar”. The temples and convents as well as the beautiful homes and residences have a distinct architectonic seal which combines elements of the Italian baroque, the Spanish plateresque and the original Andean touches. The city’s Historic Center became a renowned venue of art and architecture on the 17th century. The “sillar” material, from which most of the main buildings and churches were built, has a distinct pearl-white coloration, which, under the sun’s glow, reflects a beautiful aura. For this reason, Arequipa is also known as the “White City”.
Arequipa is situated 1020 kilometers (some 650 miles) south of Lima and is easily accessible by air with daily flights from the capital city, which only take one hour and ten minutes. It can also be reached by road. The surrounding countryside presents magnificently bucolic sights and the city is the natural gateway to the fantastic Collca Canyon.
This special Anniversary’s celebrations are being prepared with anticipation and much enthusiasm by the local population and authorities, who expect some 50.000 national and international tourists visiting the city for the special occasion. During a preview Launching Event of the Festivities, the Mayor of Arequipa, Simon Balbuena announced that some 23 artistic and cultural events are being prepared. Amongst these, the First International Festival of Symphonic Orchestras will count with participants from Guayaquil, Ecuador and La Paz, Bolivia, as well as from the Peruvian cities of Cusco, Huancayo and the host city, Arequipa, itself.
The International Festival of Folkloric Dances, “Festidanza” will feature participating delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and India, as well as national and local groups. This is bound to be one of the most unique events, which will attract thousands of visitors into the White City. There will also be special contests of “live” hand-carving of materials such as the “sillar” rock, granite, wood and iron, where the local artisans display all their artistic skills.
One of the main activities is the “Corso de la Amistad” (“The Friendship’s Parade”), whose organization is underway and will provide the locals and visitors with a display of sounds and color, music, dance, popular art and culture, gastronomical events and tastings and a festive atmosphere, which will make the City shine, better than normally, while celebrating 470 years of its Spanish Foundation. No doubt, this will be a good reason and time to visit Peru’s beautiful “White City” of Arequipa, as much as it can be enjoyed anytime during the year…..