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The 'White City' lies in a green valley at the foot of three snow-capped volcanoes in the southern Peruvian desert.

Arequipa is Peru's second largest city and was founded in 1540. A delightful city set in a green valley among the high-altitude deserts and volcanoes of southern Peru; the buildings in the centre have been built almost exclusively of the volcanic material 'sillar', a white, porous rock, giving Arequipa its nickname of 'La Ciudad Blanca' - 'The White City'. At an elevation of 2,300m (7,500 feet) above sea level, the altitude can take a few days to get used to.

Arequipa is a tranquil city with important colonial and republican architecture, leading it to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the main attractions within Arequipa is the Santa Catalina Convent, established in 1579. It was built mainly in the Moorish 'mudejar' style, and is well known for its brightly painted walls. There are still some 20 nuns living in the convent, and parts of it are also open to the public.

Arequipa is also used by many people as a departure point for their visit to the Colca Canyon. About 100 miles from Arequipa and accessible by road, the Colca Canyon is the world's deepest canyon and is home to many small traditional villages, as well as being the habitat of the Andean Condor.

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