Arequipa, founded in 1540, is Peru's second largest urban area, with a population of over 1.1 million. The city is located 1,000 kilometers southeast of Peru's capital, Lima, at 2,235 meters above sea level,
and is next to three volcanoes: the still-active Misti and the extinct Chachani and Pichu Pichu. The weather is sunny year-round, warm during the day and cool at night. The average temperature from January to May is approximately 15 degrees Celsius,
with a high around 20 degrees Celsius.
Arequipa is an important center of Peruvian arts and culture. Its downtown area, with buildings made of white volcanic rock (sillar) blending native and Spanish styles, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Arequipa's Main Square (Plaza de Armas) is among Peru's most beautiful, with an impressive cathedral and colonial arcaded buildings full of restaurants and cafés.
A notable attraction near the square is the 400-year old Santa Catalina Monastery, which is like a city within the city. Not too far from the bustling downtown area, there are quiet neighborhoods where you can take a pleasant stroll. One of these is Yanahuara, with a charming square and excellent view of the city, the mountains, and the surrounding countryside. Another is San Lazaro, with pedestrian streets and winding alleys. San Lazaro is the location of San Pablo Catholic University (UCSP). The UCSP campus lies along the Chili River and has a clear view of the Misti volcano. All over the city there are excellent restaurants, where you can sample Arequipa's cuisine, which occupies a special place in Peru's world-renowned gastronomy.