About the history Arequipa

by Arequipa Travel on March 18, 2008

Pre-20th-Century History

Evidence of pre-Inca settlement by indigenous peoples from the Lake Titicaca area has led some scholars to believe that the Aymara people first named the city – ari means ‘peak’ and quipa means ‘lying behind’ in Aymara; hence, Arequipa is ‘the place lying behind the peak’ of El Misti. However, another oft-heard legend says that the fourth Inca, Mayta Capac, was traveling through the valley and became enchanted by it. He ordered his retinue to stop, saying, ‘Ari, quipay’, which translates as ‘Yes, stay’. The Spaniards refounded the city on August 15, 1540, and this date is celebrated with a week-long fair.

Unfortunately, Arequipa is built in an area highly prone to natural disasters; the city was totally destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in 1600, and has since been rocked by major earthquakes in 1687 and 1868 among others.Modern History

During the 20th century, Arequipa was again struck by two major earthquakes, one in 1958 and another in 1960.

Monasterio Misterioso opened to the public in 1970, when the mayor of Arequipa forced the convent to modernize by opening its doors to tourism. This followed more than a century of the convent being shrouded in mystery. In 1871, Pope Pius IX sent Sister Josefa Cadena, a strict Dominican nun, to straighten out a convent of ‘privileged’ nuns who had servants and slaves, and often invited musicians to play at their parties. After the sister arrived, the majority of the nuns did not venture outside the convent’s walls.

Since the 1950s, almost two dozen Incan sacrifices have been discovered atop various Andean mountains. The most famous was the 500-year-old body of a girl dubbed ‘Juanita, the ice princess’ – she was given her own museum in 1998.

Recent History
The modern city of Arequipa was founded on 15 August 1540, by Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, an emissary of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

Arequipa was named “The White City” (La ciudad Blanca). This led Arequipa to develop a large Peruvian Mestizo population as its demographics changed and grew over the centuries.

The city has 4 universities (the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa, the local state university (founded 1828), and the Universidad Católica de Santa María (founded in 1961)), a private institution, Universidad Católica San Pablo is a private institution, and (Universidad Alas Peruanas).

Arequipa‘s most recent earthquake occurred in 2001. As a result of constant rumblings in the region, many of the buildings are built low for stability. Despite the many quakes endured by the city, several fetching historic structures have survived.

Tourism is now a major part of modern Arequipa. The streets of Santa Catalina and Jerusalén harbor dozens of travel agencies offering city tours and excursions to the canyon country – Colca Canyon is a favorite among travelers.

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