Although the city of Arequipa wasn’t one of the first founded cities of Peru, it was one of the most important colonial settlements in the country, thanks to its strategic position and flourishing valleys. For that reason, the Historic Center of Arequipa holds the most visually striking colonial scenery in the country.
The city is characterized for its colonial architecture where neo-renaissance styles cover the entire city along with a distinctive material brought from the nearby volcanic quarries, the White Ashlar or Sillar Blanco in Spanish.
Most of the structures in Arequipa’s old town were built with that special material, being the Santa Catalina Monastery the perfect example of it. Likewise, these old colonial mansions are characterized for their authentic architectural style, where towering walls, thoughtfully carved stones and picturesque colors complement the entire urban landscape.
These old houses hold the legacy of another important era in our country, which is why we have listed four of the most important colonial mansions in Arequipa that you surely won’t like to miss during your stay. Continue reading and learn everything about them.
It is one of the oldest ‘Casonas Coloniales’ or Colonial mansions in English. According to an engraving on one of its walls, the house was built in 1743. Casa Irriberry has the distinctive distribution of that time, with rooms and courtyards that give it an extension of 1,288 m2.
The colonial house was built by Don Juan Bautista Arróspide y Beláustegui in the XVIII century, which is why it is still recognized by his family name (Casa Arróspide). Nonetheless, the property was transferred to Don Simón Yrriberry, which is why now it’s also called under its current name.
Nowadays, this old mansion serves as the headquarters of the Cultural Center of the Universidad de San Agustín de Arequipa. The rooms were accommodated to exhibit contemporary and colonial artwork, including paintings, sculptures, furniture and archeological artifacts found in the region.
Casa Irriberry is now known as Complejo Cultural Chávez de la Rosa, though it’s also described as the ‘Talking House,’ a curious name depicting the engraved messages on its sillar-stone walls. This cultural center has eight galleries, each with a special annual exhibition.
Address: Calle San Agustín 113, Arequipa.
It is one of the most important colonial buildings within Arequipa’s Historic Center. This beautiful palace was built on top of the ruins of an old structure that dates back to 1558, many years before the city of Arequipa was founded.
The architect Gaspar Báes was in charge of its reconstruction around the 18th century, though it was severely damaged due to an earthquake in 1782. Later, the lot was acquired by Juan de Goyeneche y Aguerrevere, who restored it as a family residency.
As time went by, the house was owned by the azorbishop of Arequipa, who ordered the remodeling of the house in 1837. The azorbishop decorated the precinct with beautiful furniture from Europe and different paintings, where two of them belonged to the renowned artist Goya.
Luckily, the Goyeneche Palace has withstood years of earthquakes, keeping its authentic architectural style nearly intact. As time went by, the house was bought by the Banco Central de Reserva del Perú, who restored the entire building maintaining its distinctive characteristics.
Nowadays, the site offers an extensive collection of virreinal and republican art, as well as pre-Columbian objects found across the country. Also, the Goyeneche Palace holds the oldest library in Arequipa, with documents and books from the Independence era.
If you’re in the so-called White City, make sure to visit this attraction and experience a back in time journey through its beautiful halls.
Address: Calle La Merced 201, Arequipa.
Arequipa certainly holds a great cultural expression, where the Spanish influence overflows its entire city center. The Casa del Moral is the most important colonial mansion in the White City, thanks to its neoclassical architecture and the many treasures within its facilities and rooms.
Casa del Moral was built by the Spanish conqueror Diego Peralta Cabeza de Vaca in 1730, he was one of the founders of the Arequipa city.
As most colonial mansions in Arequipa, this one presents the particular distribution of that time, with an enclosed courtyard, beautiful gardens and a two-story structure full of history.
The construction is made with white ashlar, a volcanic stone that originated in the quarries of the Chachani Volcano. Its facade is composed of a huge entry, with carved figures that depict two angels holding a crown over a shield composed of a castle, a cougar, a bird and two crossed keys.
The entire colonial building presents an authentic architectural style and impressive structure that has remained almost untouched until the current date.
Nowadays, the site is a live museum that exhibits a great painting collection from the Cusqueñan School, over 3.000 documents in its library and some of the oldest maps of America created by the most famous cartographers of the 16th and 18th centuries.
Address: Calle el Moral 318, Arequipa.
This beautiful colonial house is located right at the heart of the Historic Center of Arequipa, it holds a great architectural style with baroque features from the year 1738. The site was reconstructed many times due to the many earthquakes that struck the city throughout the years.
However, it has maintained its original characteristic where impressive courtyards, and meticulously carved walls stand out. For example, this colonial mansion’s facade is one of the most impressive in the entire old town; it presents a large entry with engraved figures that captivate you at first glance.
Nowadays, the beautiful Casa Tristán del Pozo belongs to the BBVA Continental, who restored it and made it one of the largest museums in the city.
The exhibitions count with the unique artistic expression of the region, accommodating this historical settlement to portray the extensive cultural evolution of Arequipa and its influence across Peruvian lands.
Address: Calle San Francisco 115, Arequipa.
Each of these attractions are located in Arequipa’s Historical City Center, at a walking distance from Plaza de Armas. The site remains a paid tourist attraction and attracts thousands of visitors per year.
We highly recommend visiting these colonial mansions on a guided tour so you don’t miss any important details of this colonial gem. If you wish to know the old town of Arequipa at its fullest, we have the perfect tour for you!
Our Arequipa City Tour takes you through the most visually striking colonial scenery of Peru, while visiting the most sought after attractions on the way. Include this excursion in your travel itinerary and start exploring the city like a local expert! Contact our travel specialists for more information.
Arequipa is a region full of natural wonders, history and culture, which is why we'd love to show you everything about it. If you would like to know more about the famous White City, here you have a blog about the top things to do in Arequipa.
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