Visting the “Ice Princess” in Arequipa

As the mini bus from our Colca Canyon tour approached the outskirts of the city of Arequipa I quickly realised I had grossly underestimated the size of the place. Not having read the guidebook yet, and having become accustomed to the smaller more basic towns in Bolivia I was pleasantly surprised that before I knew it I was driving past a Starbucks.

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Arequipa is in fact one of Peru’s largest cities and is the second most industrialised and commercial in the country. The centre of town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and whilst there is plenty to do in the city, like us, it is easy the while away the days enjoying the pleasures of modern city life again. We ate good food, drank coffee and socialised with the friends travelling with us.

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If you’re in Arequipa, even only briefly, there are two sites we highly recommend seeing.

Firstly we visited the “Ice Princess” or “Juanita” at the Museo Santuarios Andinos. Juanita, like the Children of Llullaillaco, which we visited in Salta, she as an excellent example of an Inca Mummy, a child sacrificed to the gods, buried and frozen on Mount Ampato. No photos but the tours of the museum are well conducted and the artifacts are fascinating.

Secondly a visit to the Santa Catalina Monastery is a must. Built in 1579 it is over 20,000 square meters and still has approximately 20 nuns in residence today. We got up early and arrived for opening. The sign on the door said it opened at 9am, despite the guidebook saying 8.30am, but they let us in at 8.30am anyway!

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I urge you to drag yourself out of bed and do the same, as by about 10am the tour groups started to arrive disrupting the tranquillity of the place. Our pictures were people free and the morning sun made the colours and the architecture truly beautiful.

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We wandered around undisrupted for a good few hours.

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Occasionally one of our group would get in shot…

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But most of the time we had the place to ourselves…

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Well except for a few creepy nun mannequins and some guinea pigs in the larder…

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We were a bit snap happy so here’s a few more shots to inspire you to visit…

 

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