The historic centre of Arequipa, built in volcanic sillar rock, represents an integration of European and native building techniques and characteristics, expressed in the admirable work of colonial masters and Criollo and Indian masons. This combination of influences is illustrated by the city's robust walls, archways and vaults, courtyards and open spaces, and the intricate Baroque decoration of its facades.
Arequipa is the capital and largest city of the province of Arequipa and the seat of the Constitutional Court and the "Legal Capital of Peru". Also known as the White City, it is the second most populous city in Peru, with 844,407 inhabitants according to INEI projections.
Arequipa is an important commercial center of Peru and is as second most industrialized city in the country. Its industrial activity includes manufactured products and export quality camelid wool textiles. The city has close trade ties with Chile, Bolivia and Brazil, with cities connected by the Southern Railway and with the port of Matarani.
The city was founded on 15 August 1540, under the name of 'Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción" in the name of the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro, and on 22 September 1541 King Charles V in a Royal Decree ordered that it be called the "City of Arequipa."
In the colonial period it became important for its economic role and is characterized by faithfulness to the Spanish Crown; the city received titles like "Very Noble and Loyal" and "Faithful" by the Crown.
In the republican history of Peru the city acquired greater prominence in politics, being the focus of popular rebellions, and has also been home to many prominent Peruvian intellectual, political, and religious figures. In the Republican era it was awarded the title of "Heroica ciudad de lo libres de Arequipa".
Its historic center is spread over an area of 332 hectares and was declared by UNESCO as "World Cultural Heritage". The historical and monumental heritage, along with many scenic and cultural sites, make the city a national and international tourist destination. Its religious, colonial, and republican architecture mixes European and native characteristics into a unique style called "Escuela arequipeña", the influence of which reached Potosí, Bolivia.