Arequipa, like Trujillo and Lima, has several colonial mansions, or casonas, worth visiting. Many of them were expropriated by President Juan Velasco in the late 1960s and have subsequently been converted into banks.
Casa del Moral
The best of the houses is the Casa del Moral (Moral 318, tel. 054/21-4907, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$1.50, US$1 students), which was built around 1700 and receives its name from a graceful moral (mulberry tree) in a courtyard paved with canto rodado or river stones and lined with beautiful ochre walls. The elaborate and dense carving over the front door includes pumas spitting out serpents, and the rooms are restored and decorated with period art and furniture.
Casona Iriberry (San Agustín on the Plaza de Armas, tel. 054/20-4482, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 4–8 p.m., free), has a series of graceful stone patios and spacious rooms built in 1793 and recently converted into the Centro Cultural Chávez de la Rosa. Try to read the messages carved above the doorways—one says, in old Spanish, “This house was made in the year 1743. I ask God that he who would live in it, recite an Our Father.”
Casa Tristán del Pozo
Casa Tristán del Pozo (San Francisco 108, tel. 054/21-5060, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3:45–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat., US$4) receives its name from General Domingo Tristán del Pozo—member of one of Arequipa’s most prominent and powerful families—who commissioned it in 1738. The house has been converted into a cultural center and offices for the BBVA Banco Continental and includes a stately portico, entryway, and double patios.
Two other homes worth visiting are on La Merced, near the Plaza de Armas. The simple and elegant Casa del Maestre Bustamante (first block of La Merced), presently not open for visitors, was built in 1759. Over the door of Casa Goyeneche (La Merced 201, tel. 054/21-2251, 9:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m. Mon.–Fri., US$4) there is an ecclesiastical coat of arms of Arequipa’s bishop José Sebastián Goyeneche (1784–1872). This home, with a large and graceful patio, is occupied by the Banco Central de Reserva del Perú and contains a good collection of paintings from the Cusco School.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition