But to my opinion, the weak side of Peru is city architecture. Despite the fact that Lima used to be capital of vice-kingdom, construction art in the cities of Peru has been represented much weaker than, for example in Mexico, where practically every more or less large city is a monument of colonial architecture.
The very first structures in Arequipa were made of unburned bricks and stone, similar structures are still preserved in the oldest in the region city of San Lazaro. But the catastrophe of 1582 made the constructors think about seismicity and pay attention to such light-weight, thermal-resistant and strong material as tuff. Thus, the reason for all-round use of white tuff is not only aesthetics, but common sense as well.
Excellent climate - almost all-year-round cloudless blue sky and comfortable temperature add to the picture. White stone, sun, graceful architecture – is a secret of special charm of Arequipa.
The city is situated in the valley of the Chili river at the height of 2335 m and surrounded by three the most beautiful volcanoes: Misti (5821), Chachani (6075) and Pichu Pichu (5680). The first residents of the valley are aymara Indians. Incas came there in the 14th century.
The modern city was founded on August 15, 1540 by captain Garci Manuel de Carbajal, who named it «Villa de la Asuncion de Nuestra Señora del Valle Hermoso de Arequipa» («Villa of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God in the beautiful valley of Arequipa») and on September 22, 1541 Charles V (Carlos V) granted Arequipa the title of city.
Arequipa has always been faithful to the royal court in the period of civil wars and for that it has been granted the title of «the most noble, faithful, loyal subject». And at the same time in the period of Republic the city turned into the stronghold of faithfulness and respect of the Constitution. It turned out that it has practically always been the opponent to the capital. Arequipa was even called the «gun pointed at Lima». This and many other factors give the reason for the residents of Arequipa – Arequipeños, or as they call themselves characatos, feel themselves special and be proud of their birth. In any boutique of the city you can buy a «Passport of a citizen of an independent republic of Arequipa». This is an absolute copy of the official Peruvian passport.
The selectiveness of the city is much explained by its isolation form other settlements of Peru (of course earlier, when the transportation system was not so much developed), as well as by big concentration of «white» population. Population census of 1791 showed that out of 37000 of residents of Arequipa 22000 were of Spanish origin, 6000 Indians, 5000 mongrels and 3700 – Blacks. It is very unusual, because even in the capital the white population has always been in minority. Besides, in the period of Independence (1824) many English businessmen appeared in the city, who exported the wool of sheep, alpaca and vicuna). It has left its own trace in a number of English names and luxurious mansions in British style.