Historical Churches, Arequipa

Historical Churches (Self Guided), Arequipa

Colonists from Spain brought to Peru and Arequipa the power of Catholicism, which is beautifully reflected today in the splendid architectural designs of Arequipa's numerous places of worship. Arequipa’s churches are among the most striking in Peru. Take this self-guided walking tour to explore the city's religious heritage.
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Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches
Guide Location: Peru » Arequipa (See other walking tours in Arequipa)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: sabrina
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • La Merced Church
  • La Compania Church
  • Cathedral of Arequipa
  • San Agustin Church
  • San Francisco Church
  • Santa Marta Church
  • Santa Rosa Church
La Merced Church

1) La Merced Church (must see)

It took more than fifty years for the La Merced complex to be constructed. Like many other buildings in Arequipa, Iglesia La Merced, also called the “House of God,” was built using ashlar stones. This volcanic stone easily transforms into beautiful carvings in the hands of a skilled artist. The Churrigueresque altar and Virgin de las Mercedes paintings are the main attractions inside the church. There is also a great colonial library located within the walls of this historic complex.
La Compania Church

2) La Compania Church (must see)

Situated in Arequipa's historic center, Iglesia de la Compañía is another reminder of the glorious religious legacy left by colonists and Jesuit priests. It took more than one hundred years to build this church. The Baroque-style facade is considered to be a masterpiece of South American Colonial architecture. It features motifs from pre-Hispanic Native American mythology. Inside the temple there is a beautifully carved wooden altar covered with gold leaf decorations. The walls are ornamented with paintings by Bernardo Bitti, an Italian artist who came to Peru at the end of the 16th century.
Cathedral of Arequipa

3) Cathedral of Arequipa (must see)

The only cathedral in Peru to stretch the length of the plaza it is situated on, The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is the most important place of worship in the city. The original structure dates back to the mid-17th century. Although there were some modifications made after the cathedral suffered from a fire and an earthquake, it still looks beautiful and tells a fascinating story about the significance of religion in the colonial era.

The interior of the cathedral is spacious and simply decorated. The high altar and twelve columns symbolizing the twelve apostles are made from Italian marble. The magnificent, large Byzantine candelabra lamp hanging above the altar was brought here from Spain. The huge organ imported from Belgium at the end of the 19th century is said to have been the largest organ ever brought to South America.

Inside the cathedral there is a museum where you can visit four rooms: two belong to The Treasures of the Cathedral - it contains crowns and religious pieces of ancient goldsmithing -, another to Ornaments and Cloths and the last, to Religious Paintings.
San Agustin Church

4) San Agustin Church (must see)

Located on a street bearing the same name, Iglesia de San Agustín is an impressive Baroque-style church built in 1575. Like many other Arequipa buildings, San Augustin Church suffered a lot of damage during the strong earthquake of 1868, but it underwent a series of restorations in the 19th century. During the restoration some Neoclassical ornamentation was added to the interior and the facade. Inside, notice the careful attention to decorative detail reflected in the rich ornate dome, the impressive high altar and fine golden carvings. There are also several large paintings in the central area of the church depicting religious life in the city during the colonial era.
San Francisco Church

5) San Francisco Church (must see)

Founded by the Franciscan Order in 1552 and finally completed in 1569 by Gaspar Báez, this old monastery tells an interesting story about Arequipa's past religious identity. After reconstruction work in the 17th century, Iglesia San Francisco became the largest complex in the country to have been built using ashlar stone. The rich, ornate interior of the church includes a Baroque-style embossed silver altar, an intricately carved pulpit, choir chairs and wooden figurines. Inside the complex is a small square, a temple used as the head office of a craft center and a library holding over twenty thousand volumes.
Santa Marta Church

6) Santa Marta Church

Iglesia Santa Marta is a beautiful colonial church, which dates back to 1582. The twin bell towers and ornate facade has made this unpretentious church one of the most visited in the city. The church is located on Plaza Espanya and is most known for its intricate image of Christ, a present from King Charles V of Spain.
Santa Rosa Church

7) Santa Rosa Church

Located on San Pedro Street, Iglesia de Santa Rosa is a small church that was once part of the Santa Rosa Monastery founded in 1747 by Dominican nuns. Arequipa’s traditional architectural style is reflected in the white ashlar stone of the church's walls. The prevalence of this stone is most likely why the city of Arequipa is sometimes called the “white city”. With numerous arches, pillars and towers, the complex resembles an old castle. Here you can also enjoy stunning views of the volcano.

Walking Tours in Arequipa, Peru

Create Your Own Walk in Arequipa

Create Your Own Walk in Arequipa

Creating your own self-guided walk in Arequipa is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Arequipa Introduction Walking Tour

Arequipa Introduction Walking Tour

Capital of the eponymous region of Peru, Arequipa is a colonial-era city rich in architecture built of the volcanic stone provided by three neighboring volcanoes. The historic downtown area of Arequipa is dominated by Plaza de Armas complete with a plethora of ancient churches located nearby, of which the most notable is the 17th-century Basilica Cathedral. This orientation tour will walk you...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles