Arequipa was founded by the spanish Manuel Garci de Carbajal after the conquest of America under the rule of Charles V of Spain, on August 15th, 1540. The city already existed founded by the Inca Mayta Capac under the name of Arequepay which in Aymara language means “we settle here." There is no information of the indians whereabouts when the spanish founded and settled in the city. They started planning the architecture using a volcanic stone named “sillar” with which their first magnificent houses were built. The story tells that the town was known as the White City because of the color of this white stone. But there is also information that this name comes because the Spanish people settled in Arequipa but, since there were no indians living in the área, there was no possible mixture of races. Arequipa was a very important town during the colonial time because it was strategically located for the mines from Alto Peru (now Bolivia) to bring minerals to the coast line and sent in the galeons to Spain. Therefore many towns were founded along the route coming from Lake Titikaka to the coast of Arequipa and its ports. After the Independence of Perú in 1821, Arequipa kept its importance as an industrial and comercial área as in the late 19th century one of the first railroad tracks were built by an english company and linking Alto Peru (Lake Titikaka) with the coastline of Arequipa.


Arequipa is important for copper mines and the center of the alpaca and vicuna wool which is exported worldwide. There are many textile industries which where founded more than one century ago. In 1909, the first chocolate Factory was built in Arequipa by a Spanish immigrant who arrived in the late 19th century and settled here marrying a lady from Arequipa. This industry “La Iberica” is still an important and prestigious Enterprise owned by the same family that founded it. On March 25, 1915 the soccer team Football Club Melgar was founded in Arequipa and today, it is one of the main football teams in the country twice national champion. In Arequipa there are many english families due to engineers and workers that came to build the Railroad Company and stayed marrying ladies in Arequipa. Therefore, in 1918, they founded the first Golf Club in Peru called Arequipa Golf Club which still exists. During the 20th century, Arequipa has become one of the main tourist destinations of the country because of its unique architecture, wonderful climate, landscape and attractions such as the Colca Valley with its most deepest canyon in the world and colonial architecture. After Cusco, it is considered the most important destination for foreign visitors. Main square, catedral, Monastery of Santa Catalina, Santa Teresa Convent, eight art galleries, museums and various barroque style churches. Surrounding towns with ancient terraces built by the incas that still serve as agricultural crops.

Provided by Maria Elena de la Colina, Sister Cities of Arequipa

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