A walk through Arequipa


Today, I was organized enough to start to more seriously explore my new home of Arequipa, Peru. I left my apartment at about 9am for a 4+ hour walk. I took photos along the way, so that you could join me.

This is the entrance to my gated community–which seems to be called an “urbanization,” here. There are LOTS of similar security gates here and I’ve been warned about pickpockets.
So, there seems to be a passenger railroad station very near my house! Everything was all locked up, but I could see people doing maintenance of the groups at the station below. A quick Google search and it appears this is the train station that will take me to Cusco, via Punto (Lake Titicaca). Here’s some details.  Obviously, I’ll need some time to do this, but will try to find a break in the teaching schedule that will allow it. That is, if I can afford it. It’s pretty pricey for one person. But something to think about.
This is the view overlooking the station entrance. Notice the lamas grazing to the lower right. I assume the metal roof is the train station. You can’t see the river, located in the middle of the photo, but you can see the terraced land on the other side, rising to a highway.
Next I enter the long park along Bolognesi Avenue–one of the two main streets I can actually locate. I can’t seem to find the name of this green space–sandwiched between Avenue Bolognesi and the Chili River. I notice from the Google map that across the river is the Parque Ecològico Alto Selva Alegre (Roughly translated, the high happy jungle eco park, I think). I’ve got to check that out in the future. Not yet sure how to actually get there, but with a name like that, I really must try.
This is taken from the park, overlooking the terrace below, Club International, which has a lot of tennis courts, a swimming pool and what appears to be soccer fields as well as other sports. It’s a private club, so I probably won’t ever use its services. It’s bordered by the long narrow park and the Chili River. In the distance is Misti, an active (though fortunately not very active) volcano.
Lots of monuments along the way.
Signage from monument above. Mariano Ignacio Prado Ochoa (December 18, 1825 – May 5, 1901) was a Peruvian army general who served as the 27th (1865), 29th (1865 – 1868) and 32nd (1876 – 1879) President of Peru.

This monument is along Avenue Bolognesi, one of the main streets. It’s located right outside my gated community, and the main branch of my school is located here. Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes (1816-1880) was a Peruvian military hero. He is considered national hero in Peru and was declared patron of the Army of Peru by the government of Peru on January 2 of 1951.

A statue to Francicso Bolognesi Cervantes, located in the park along the avenue of the same name.
At the base of the previous statue. Here’s my rough translation: “The city of Arequipa, in homage to the hero and patriot of the army, Colonel Francicso Bolognesi Cervantes, for outstanding action in defense of the fatherland on June 7th, 1880.”

This is the main branch of my school, a 10-15 minute walk from my boarding house.
There are chess/checkers tables in the park, too. These two men were having a heated discussion, but I didn’t get the sense that they were arguing about the game.
This is a long distance glimpse of today’s destination, over the rails of the park. In the mid-ground is the bridge over the river Chili. Past that, you can see a few tall spires, from buildings in the Plaza de Armas.
There are two lamas grazing in the park (or maybe they are alpacas). I didn’t see anyone keeping them, either. This one isn’t even tied up. Of course, I don’t know the difference between a lama and an alpaca, so I could be identifying these incorrectly. I’ll figure it out. Eventually.
Here’s the second one, possibly the mother of the first, bedded down for a rest. To the upper left, you can just see the small woven structure for them to retreat to.
At the end of the park, Avenue Bolognesi hits this roundabout (called an ovalo grau on my map). Facing this direction is Avenida Ejercito (Army Avenue) the second major street I can locate, so far. It has a couple major stores and a large mall.
…but I didn’t go up hill to the shopping area. I went the other direction and crossed the bridge over the Chili River. This is the left side, showing Misti Volcano and a gentleman cleaning the roof of the swimming pool. It’s very dry and dusty here, so you often see people cleaning.
Another view of the bridge and my first real look at the river.
These are also volcanoes, but dormant, Pichu Pichu and Chachani.
On the other side of the river is this small, but lovely park. It was locked up, but some people were inside building a play structure.
This is the park on the other side of the bridge. That’s the Peruvian flag and a statue of a lama.
I’m walking down a side street on my way to the old center of town, Plaza de Armas. But found this door interesting. This is Church John 3:16.
The gated entrance to Plaza de Armas. Many old Spanish towns have a similarly named square.
By coincidence, there was a protest going on, since today is the date of Peruvian Independence. In 1821, Peru declared independence from Spain.
Here, you can see the protesters, parading around the square…..
….and to the left, to can see the riot police squad that completely ringed the plaza. This was a peaceful demonstration and while I took a few photos, I didn’t stick around long. It never seems like a good idea to be involved in a protest outside of one’s own country, even a peaceful one.
Arequipa is called “The White City” because of lovely buildings like this one. Arequipa’s main plaza is filled with buildings made of sillar--a white, volcanic stone. Impressive colonnaded balconies line three sides of Plaza de Armas. The fourth is given over to Peru’s widest cathedral, a humongous edifice with two soaring towers.
Because of the protests, the museum and the cathedral were closed. But I’ll save it for another day.
On a side street was this lovely church, Iglesia de la Compania (Church of the companions/company of Jesus, or Church of the Apostles). This diminutive Jesuit church is on the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas. The facade is an intricately carved masterpiece of the churrigueresque style (think Baroque and then some – a style hatched in Spain in the 1660s). The church is dated 1668.
Inside, the central altar is stunning. It’s completely covered in gold leaf, and is modeled after the one in Seville cathedral in Spain.
This is a side altar piece.
….and the other side altar. To the left of the altar is the San Ignacio Chapel, with a polychrome cupola smothered in unusual jungle-like murals of tropical flowers, fruit and birds, among which mingle warriors and angels. I couldn’t take photos of that. I had to pay 5 soles (about $1.50US) but it was completely worth it. There were also gold reliquaries and other church treasures on display, with a little English signage.
OK, so it isn’t just lamas and alpacas I don’t know. Apparently, there are four similar animals for me to learn here in South America.
I stopped in a grocery store and found this fruit I didn’t recognize. The package says aguaymanto. Google identifies it as Physalis peruviana, a plant species originally from Peru. The plant and its fruit are most commonly known as Cape gooseberry. Gonna have to try this. It’s related to the choke cherry (which grew wild on the farm I was raised on in the Midwest) and the tomatillo. It’s a member of the nightshade family.
A quick photo of the Cathedral of Arequipa, on the Plaza de Armas. The protest had moved mostly to the center fountain area, so I grabbed a shot while it was visible.
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is the most important Catholic church of the city and also of the larger Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Arequipa since it is the base of the Archbishop and the Metropolitan Council. The cathedral is also considered one of Peru’s most unusual and famous colonial cathedrals since the Spanish conquest.
This was a mural on the wall. Say the word on the blackboard out loud: “cuckoo”  Honest, this is a good way to figure out words you don’t know. Often they are pronounced almost the same as an English word, just different spelling.
Another interesting mural.
Crossing the bridge again on my way back home. This is the other side and I’m standing in the middle of the Chili River bridge. This is facing the left side, where you can see a small park in the middle left and a major highway on the right. Just left of center, on the horizon, you can see the spires of the Cathedral of Arequipa, on Plaza de Armas, which we are now walking away from.
Middle of the bridge, center. This shows the River Chili, with water moving downstream, toward the Andes Mountains in the distance.
Middle of the bridge, right side. Looks like a pretty rough area. I will not be hanging out here at night.
Everyone’s warned me about the packs of dogs, which seem to be sleeping off the heat of the day.
This city is dry and dusty. Some days the air quality is really poor because of dust. Also, I’ve never seen so many taxis in one city. They all seem to have spots like this one for washing the bodies down from the dust.
Another pack of dogs. Hummm. Remember how they dealt with this problem in Vietnam? Yeah, they ate the mean dogs. Wonder what they do here?

Published by


I’m a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I’m exploring the world and you can come too!

4 thoughts on “A walk through Arequipa”

  1. It’s so weird to see packs of dogs just roaming around like that.

    And looking at that explanation of the camelids, it made me wonder if they’re actually out and about roaming, wild animals in addition to farm animals. That’s a weird thought.

    1. Yeah, I’ve been told to stay out of the parks at night–and we are at the end of winter/beginning of spring here, so it gets dark early.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *