Arequipa is Peru's second most populous city, and one of its most scenic. It is surrounded by high deserts, deep canyons and volcanic peaks. El Mistí, a snow-capped stratovolcano looms above the city at a height of 19,101 feet.
Arequipa's colonial center—containing its Plaza de Armas, cathedral, and church of La Compania—was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The historic buildings in this sector are constructed of a white volcanic stone called sillar. These structures gleam in the sunshine, earning Arequipa its nickname: "The White City". The Santa Catalina de Siena Convent is the city's most impressive colonial structure. Founded in 1579, this working convent was first opened to the public in 1970. Highlights include the art gallery, Orange Tree Cloister and chapel.
Arequipa is the base for visits to the Colca Canyon, located approximately 100 miles northwest of the city. Colca is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Visitors to Colca can tour indigenous villages, visit Inca ruins, and watch Andean condors ride the thermal currents near the canyon's edge.
Arequipa can be reach by air from most of the country's major airports, and by land from the Puno – Lake Titicaca region (a drive of approximately four hours). The climate is cool, and sunny skies can be expected year round. The city's altitude is approximately 7,800 feet above sea level.
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