ears later, on August 15, 1540, the Spanish founding would take place. Manuel Garcia de Carbajal baptized the town, in name of the queen of Spain, as Town of our Lady of Assumption of the Beautiful Valley of Arequipa, having had ever since those times special characteristics that make it different from the rest of Peruvian cities.
Together with its modernness and drive, Arequipa knew how to instil in each one of its inhabitants the will to preserve their architectural riches with pride and care. And this makes listing the attractions of Arequipa a long, pleasant task.
Reflecting a devout Catholic people, the ecclesiastical architecture of their town provides the visitor with fine examples of a living, edifying faith. Nearly all these buildings occupy whole blocks. Their corridors, walls and rooms are discreet witnesses of stories capable of putting the most creative imagination in the shade.
First, mention must be made of the Cathedral,
located on the Plaza de Armas or main square, that has remained as it was after its reconstruction following an earthquake that destroyed it in 1668. Two slim towers stand out on its front, and in its interior there are a fine Belgian organ and a wood pulpit carved by French artist Rigot in 1879.
Close to the Plaza de Armas is the Church of la Compañía, a beautiful example of Colonial baroque with "mestizo" (Spanish-Native). Its sculpted front and its carved wood pulpit-real artistic gems-are examples of priceless talent and good taste.
The greater part of these churches has been converted into important museums and libraries. This is the case, for example, with the church and convent of La Merced that holds in its rooms an important colonial library and valuable paintings. Likewise, the Church of San Francisco has a library of over 20 thousand volumes and a complete colection of paintings.
In the same way, the churches of San Agustin, Santo Domingo, San Lazaro and La Recoleta are outstanding with their fine facades and the blending of Spanish and native styles in their art.
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