Church of the Week: Arequipa Cathedral

Arequipa Cathedral is a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture, but is especially impressive because of its immense size. Its huge facade dominates an entire side of the Plaza de Armas in the center of the white city, as Arequipa is called because of the prevalence of the white volcanic stone mined from the nearby Misti.

The cathedral was originally constructed in 1656. It stood for over two centuries, but was gutted by fire in 1844 then destroyed in the earthquake of 1868. The cathedral was rebuilt shortly after.

We saw the cathedral repeatedly on our 2009 visit to Arequipa. It's hard to miss! We were introduced to it by our hosts in Peru, Don and Christie Latta, who as we passed it on our way to breakfast on the plaza, explained that the left tower in the photo above (also pictured in the shot below) was toppled in a large earthquake that hit Arequipa in June of 2001. The tower was subsequently rebuilt.

Among the impressive sights inside the cathedral is an organ donated by Belgium in 1870, which is said to be the largest in South America.

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