monasterio de santa catalina arequipa peru

Arequipa: Monasterio de Santa Catalina & exploring the city

Our first full day in Arequipa, we finally did some actual sightseeing. We started at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

Wow. It totally lived up to the hype – it was absolutely gorgeous. It’s like a city within a city, and the peaceful, quiet atmosphere is so serene. Truly “a photographer’s dream,” with vivid blue and orange walls, simple nuns’ quarters and blooming flowers. I wish we had gone to see the monastery at night, too, when they give tours by candlelight, but unfortunately we didn’t have time.

Inside the monastery
A nun’s room
Inside the monastery
One of the many courtyards within the monastery
Awesome blue walls lining the quiet halls of the monastery

After the monastery, we got lunch at Crepissimo, where the food was super rich. While there, we met a newlywed couple from L.A. that decided to travel the world for a year in place of a honeymoon. What a cool idea!

As we headed back towards the Plaza de Armas, we stopped in this super cool antique shop right next to the cafe. It was filled with old clocks, household items, and yes, of course, antique irons. No worries, I already had mine.

Plaza de Armas at dusk

Our last stop was the humongous cathedral at the Plaza. It was nice, but not the most memorable church we’ve seen in Peru. However, there was another church just off the plaza, Iglesia de la Compania, that had this beautifully carved stone exterior that incorporated the tropical foods, plants and imagery of the region.

La Catedral
Beautiful carvings on the Iglesia de la Compania

It wasn’t until we came to Arequipa that I realized how relatively small and un-city-like Cusco is. And I didn’t know that Arequipa is actually the second-largest city in Peru with Cusco coming in fourth. But I wasn’t thatΒ crazy about Arequipa. Maybe my expectations of a “White City” were a little too high. There are definitely some super-nice historical parts of the city, and some super-modern areas as well, but everything else just seems somewhere in between. And what’s with all the casinos every two steps? It’s an interesting city with its malls, monasteries, surrounding volcanos, casinos, nightclubs and everything in between!

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