Perhaps the most strikingly beautiful city in Peru, Arequipa has leafy squares, fine colonial architecture and many old and interesting churches built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic stone almost exclusively used in the construction of this city. Situated 1,029 kilometres south of Lima, Arequipa stands in a beautiful valley at the foot of the snow-capped El Misti volcano. The city served as a major crossroads in the Inca period as it stood on the main highways to Cuzco from both Chile and the coast. The Spanish explorer Diego de Almegro, one of Pizarro’s emissaries, was the first Spaniard to reach Arequipa and the new Spanish city subsequently founded beside it in 1540 eventually merged with the Incan town.
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