Church on Plaza de Armas, Arequipa © Maksym Gorpenyuk, Shutterstock
Arequipa has an unrivalled collection of colonial churches. The Franciscan Monasterio de la Recoleta (09.00–12.00 & 15.00–17.00 Mon–Sat) at Recoleta 117 dates from 1648 and has a distinctive red-and-white steeple. The monastery also has attractive cloisters and pretty gardens to wander through, and a collection of pre-Inca artefacts to uncover along with mummies and a horde of Amazonian curios picked up by Franciscan missionaries as they attempted to spread the word throughout the region. A library containing 20,000 books and maps is as impressive as it sounds. Elsewhere, Iglesia de San Francisco at Zela 103 is a 16th-century sillar structure with a silver altar and pretty vaulted ceiling; Iglesia de San Agustín, on the corner of San Agustín and Sucre, was rebuilt in the late 1890s after an earthquake but still boasts a superb Baroque façade; Iglesia de Santo Domingo, at the junction of Santo Domingo and Piérola, is known for its smart cloisters; whilst Iglesia de la Merced at La Merced 103 is home to a huge colonial library.