Renowned for its landscapes of dreams, the colonial city of Arequipa has remained true to its origins. In the heart of the city is the Plaza de Armas, a unique example of perfectly preserved Baroque architecture. The buildings lining it are spectacular, with their facades of silar, a local stone of gleaming whiteness.
The highlight is the impressive cathedral, destroyed three times since 1651 by a fire and earthquakes. To the right of the altar, note the unusual presence of a flag of the Vatican, a rare kindness granted by the pope to fewer than 100 religious buildings in the world. The Santa Catalina Monastery, which has occupied an entire city block since 1580, is also worth a visit.
Inside is a maze of cloisters, conducive to contemplation, and gardens of orange trees. Especially noteworthy is the cell of Sister Anna, whose many miracles have marked the history of Arequipa.