The city of Arequipa holds one of the most visually striking historical centers in Peru, and it owes its authenticity to a volcanic stone found in the quarries of the Chachani Volcano, a majestic natural wonder located only 55 kilometers away from the city.
The Cantera de Añashuayco originated thanks to the volcanic activity of the region millions of years ago. The volcanic sediments expelled by the Chachani Volcano solidified and left an impressive material used in most of the constructions within Arequipa’s old town.
These quarries are one of the many things to do in Arequipa that you can’t miss, since they hold a great cultural and historical value that dates back to pre-Columbian times. Nowadays, it is one of the most visited destinations near the Arequipa city, thanks to its uniqueness and beauty,
You’ll be surprised by the many historical monuments constructed with white ashlar, and how they manage to withstand centuries of earthquakes in such a rugged area. However, the quarries also hold a magical scenery where towering walls and narrow halls invite you to immerse yourself in their everlasting energy.
If you’re eager to know more, here we have gathered some useful information about the site, as well as some attractions built with this volcanic material that will leave you breathless.
Located right at the foothills of the Chachani Volcano lies the so-called Canteras del Sillar. The site originated after the several volcanic eruptions of the nearby volcanoes.
If you love nature as much as we do, you must know that our planet is the most patient artist since the geologic process took abou 13 million years to create the 30-meter walls that compose this natural beauty.
The Sillar Blanco is the most emblematic feature of the White City since it is part of the entire Centro Histórico de Arequipa, where towering colonial mansions and religious buildings rise upon the grace of the mighty volcanoes that surround it.
The Cantera de Añashuayco were thoughtfully adapted to tourism, though there are stonemasons that still work these lands. However, these stonemasons are clearly experts on what they do, which is why there’s no one better to explain about the use of white ashlar rather than them.
They worked together with the Government of Arequipa to create a beautiful space in the quarries to show its importance. The skilled carvers also made sculptures out of sillar, showing the functionality of this important volcanic stone.
Arequipa’s old town owes its authentic scenery to this stone since over 600 historical monuments were built with it. Here we have listed some of the attractions within the Historic Center of Arequipa built with white ashlar:
1. Santa Catalina Monastery
Also known as ‘the city within the city’ it is one of the perfect examples of colonial architecture and white ashlar buildings since it covers an extension of 20,000 square kilometers.
The Monasterio de Santa Catalina is one of the most important attractions in Arequipa since it dates back to 1579. This important convent housed over 300 devoted women who lived in complete isolation until the 1970s.
The convent is composed of several narrow halls painted of bright yellow, blue and red colors, as well as picturesque courtyards complemented with fortress-like walls. The complex itself is a masterpiece of colonial architecture, a work of art preserved for centuries.
2. Cathedral of Arequipa
This is the principal church in the city and one of the first religious monuments in Arequipa. Its construction took around 15 years, and it was completed in 1656. The Cathedral of Arequipa is one of those sillar examplaries worth visiting, its whole structure is made entirely of White Ashlar and it presents Neo-Renaissance styles with some Gothic influence.
3. Yanahuara Viewpoint
This viewpoint offers an incredible view of the city and its surroundings, including the Misti and Chachani Volcanoes, two of the three mounts that guard the White City.
It is located 17 kilometers away from the main square in the Yanahuara neighborhood, one of the oldest suburbs in Arequipa. The Yanahuara Viewpoint is composed of a series of portals made entirely of white ashlar.
If you’d like to know more about Arequipa's Historical City Center, we have prepared a special travel guide with all the details you SHOULD NOT miss during your stay!
To visit this natural wonder, you just need to get to the city of Arequipa, the starting point to most tours to the Añashuayco Quarries. The excursion is called Ruta del Sillar, a trail that takes you through a geologic journey in the outskirts of the White City.
The Ruta del Sillar tour looks to promote the cultural and historical value of these quarries, while also teaching about the volcanic activity of the region. On the way to the Cantera de Añashuayco, you’ll be able to stop at a viewpoint, from where you’ll get to appreciate the Chachani, Misti, and Pîchu Pichu volcanoes.
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.
Would you like to know more about Peru? Here you’ll find all the information you need for your trip. Our local expert team has prepared the most complete informative guides for you! Also, if you’re eager to know Peru at its fullest, check our travel packages and live an authentic experience with Viagens Machu Picchu.