Arequipa is the capital and largest city of the Department of Arequipa, is the second most important and populated city of Peru (only surpassed by Lima, the capital). Also known as the "White City". Because several of its old constructions of great architectural value were constructed with volcanic stone characterized by its white and pink color called sillar. The Cathedral is magnificent and shopping galleries are in colonial style. It is the city with eternal spring.
There are two theories about the origin of the Arequipa name. A long time ago the Aymara founded this place where they built a settlement. In its language, Aymara, "ARI" means "summit" and "QUIPA" to put behind. In fact, the majestic volcano "El Misti" is seen from Arequipa. The second theory says that the name comes from the language of the Inca, Quechua.
The legend tells the story of the Inca Mayta Capac, the fourth Inca, traveling through the valley. A column of militaries, sacred and noble virgins accompanied the Sapa Inca. Mayta Capac saw the establishment that was never visited before by an Inca. The beauty of this place and the strategic importance surprised him as a connection between the ocean and Cusco in the center of the Andes. He said, "Ari, quipay!" Translated as "yes, stay!" This was the answer in the desire of some of the companions to establish themselves in this place and to develop the area as important city in the empire of Inca.
Arequipa was totally destroyed in 1600 by an earthquake and volcanic eruption. The Spanish revived the city on August 15, 1540. This date is still remembered for festivals in and around Arequipa with carnivals and fairs. The parties take a week. The climax of the festival is on August 14 with a splendid artificial fire in the Plaza de Armas.