Arequipa's Colonial Mansions
Arequipa possesses one of the most attractive and harmonious colonial nuclei in Peru. Several extraordinary seigniorial houses were constructed in white sillar stone. They are predominantly flat-roofed, single-story structures, a construction style that has helped them withstand the effects of frequent earthquakes that would have toppled less solid buildings. Most of these houses have attractive, though small, interior patios and elaborately carved facades. Best equipped for visitors is the restored Casa del Moral, but several others are worth a look, especially if you have an interest in colonial architecture.
Just off the main square at San Francisco 108, Casa Ricketts (also called Casa Tristán del Pozo), a former seminary and today the offices of Banco Continental, is one of the finest colonial homes in Arequipa. Built in the 1730s, it has a beautiful portal, perhaps Arequipa's finest expression of colonial civil architecture, with delicate representations of the life of Jesus. Inside are two large, beautiful courtyards with gargoyle drainage pipes.
On the other side of the cathedral at the corner of Santa Catalina 101 at San Agustín, Casa Arróspide (also called Casa Iriberry), from the late 18th century, is one of the most distinguished sillar mansions in the city. Now the Cultural Center of San Agustín University (tel. 054/204-482), its several salas host temporary exhibits of contemporary art and photography; you'll also find an art shop and nice little cafe with a terrace and great views over the top of the cathedral.
Other colonial houses of interest include Casa Arango, a squat and eclectic 17th-century home located on Consuelo at La Merced; Casa Goyeneche, La Merced 201, today the offices of Banco de Reserva; and Casa de la Moneda, Ugarte at Villaba.
About a 15-minute cab ride outside of town, in Huasacache, is the Mansión del Fundador (tel. 054/442-460), one of the most important sillar mansions in Arequipa. It is said to have been constructed by the founder of Arequipa, Manuel de Carbajal, for his son. It features terrific vaulted ceilings and a large interior patio. The house is open daily from 9am to 5pm; admission is S/10.
Parroquia de Yanahuara, a stunningly carved church with a long, single nave and vaulted ceiling, dates to 1730 and is the centerpiece of the Yanahuara main square overlooking Arequipa.
Arequipa's Colonial Churches
Arequipa has a wealth of colonial churches that are well worth a visit if you have the time. They include Iglesia de San Francisco (Zela 103), built of sillar and brick in the 16th century with an impressive all-silver altar and a beautiful vaulted ceiling; Iglesia de San Agustín (at the corner of San Agustín and Sucre), with a superbly stylized baroque facade, an excellent example of 16th- and 17th-century mestizo architecture (it was rebuilt in 1898 after earthquake damage and was restored, with an unfortunate new bell tower, again in October 2005); Iglesia de Santo Domingo (at Santo Domingo and Piérola), with handsome 1734 cloisters; Iglesia de La Merced (La Merced 303), built in 1607 and possessing a lovely carved sillar facade and an impressive colonial library; Convento de Santa Teresa (Melgar at Peral), of brilliant sillar and newly restored, with a museum and lovely outdoor terrace; and Iglesia de Yanahuara.
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