Made with sillar rock from neighbouring volcanoes, Peru’s second-largest city, Arequipa dates back to 1540. Carved baroque buildings line the streets and a magnificent cathedral sits at its centre all bring us over to Cirqa, the city’s newest piece of magnificence. Full of colourful monasteries, the skyline is dominated by terracotta roofs and imposing volcanoes.
At 2,328 metres above sea level, Arequipa is often the gateway for acclimatising to altitude before continuing on to higher destinations. Arequipa combines well with a visit to Cusco or Lake Titicaca.
Our latest favourite, Cirqa has recently opened its doors to those looking to experience Arequipa’s ancient heritage and culture.
Lying at the heart of Arequipa’s centre, Cirqa is a parador of arches, vaulted ceilings, exposed walls and open courtyards.
Interiors are simple, fresh and bright, drawing attention to the property’s heritage.
There are eleven rooms all clustered around two open-air courtyards. There are three differing categories to choose from. Our favourite Boveda has high vaulted ceilings, open arches and features a free-standing bath. Claustro is the most compact while Aposentro has an intricately painted ceiling.
A plunge pool sits at the centre of the patio for warmer days alongside a spa therapy room for relaxing weary muscles after long days exploring.
Surrounded by traditional Peruvian Picanterías (lunchtime restaurants) head chef Maria draws inspiration from native ingredients, flavours and spices. Produce is often sourced from an organic roof garden.
Experts are on hand to take guests to Arequipa’s monasteries including the azure blue and ochre red walls of Santa Catalina. Discover the history of the Incan sacrifice mummy Juanita at the Santaurias Andinas Museum. Explore the vast Colca Canyon where majestic condors swoop overhead.
Combine a visit to Cirqa with a stay at Titilaka, their sister property on the shores of Lake Titicaca.