Attractions in Arequipa: Ruta del Sillar

Among all the things to do in Arequipa, Las Canteras de Sillar have become one of the most significant attractions in the so-called White City. Make sure you know everything about the importance of this material during the colonial era, how to get to the quarries, and more.

The White Ashlar has been a principal asset during the construction of many structures and buildings within Arequipa’s historic center. These quarries were formed thousands of years ago due to the volcanic activity caused by the Chachani Volcano.

Without a doubt, Arequipa is recognized by its natural wonders, beauty, history, culture, and traditions. Being this the second most important city of Peru, home to the deepest canyon in America, and receiving more than 2 million visitors per year, this place has become everyone’s favorite destination while traveling through Peru.

A few of the top things to do in Arequipa are:

Although the White Sillar Quarries may have gone unnoticed for some time, this attraction is worth knowing because of its fascinating landscapes, history, and its geologic importance. Keep reading to find out the origin of the White City alias and let us show you how to Arequipa in a real way!

The Sillar Quarries

The White Sillar is found in a group of quarries, located in the Cerro Colorado district, 40 minutes away from Arequipa. This place gathers a major geologic and historical importance since most of the Historic Center of Arequipa was built with these volcanic rocks.

This place is divided into three locations, Añashuayco, Cortadores, and Virgen de Culebrillas quarries. They lie on the base of the Chachani Volcano and have an extension of 2 kilometers.

During the colonial era, the white sillar was mainly used in the construction of the city. An exemplary structure would be the Santa Catalina Monastery, which dates back to the late 1500s. This massive structure covers 20,000 km2, located a few blocks away from the Cathedral of Arequipa. The Santo Domingo and La Merced churches are also a few of the main structures made out of Sillar, as well as the arches found in the Yanahuara Viewpoint.

yanahuara viewpoint

The reason why this precious element was so important to the city of Arequipa’s construction was because of its lightness, softness, and porosity. Besides the white sillar, pink and yellowish ashlar are also found in the surroundings of the Arequipa city, these particular colors are caused by the different minerals within these elements, giving them a particular and unique pigmentation.

La Ruta del Sillar

The quarries are located only 40 minutes away from the main square, and usually, most of the tours start from this location. This place covers a length of 2 Kilometers, where you’re going to visit the Añashuayco, Cortadores, and Virgen de Culebrillas quarries.

Also, on the way, some tour operators offer stops in strategic places, such as the Zamacola Viewpoint, to admire the outstanding landscapes and appreciate the three volcanoes that guard the White City, the Chachani, Misti, and Pichu Pichu volcanoes.

This significant attraction in Arequipa was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 2000.

Here, you will be able to see sculptures made entirely of white sillar. Also you’ll learn about how they manage to extract and carve this volcanic rock.

How to Get to Ruta del Sillar?

Ruta del Sillar is easily accessible from the main square in public or private transport. Keep in mind that for entering these places, you will need to pay an entrance fee.

Although you can visit this place on your own, it wouldn’t be the same as walking with an expert since this place gathers a lot of history and details that are better explained by a professional throughout the route.

We highly recommend visiting the quarries and their adjacencies on a guided day trip because of the historical importance this unique place has for you.


The white sillar will always be an important asset to the construction of many structures in this city and Peru. At the moment, the quarries are still worked and are also open to the public. Don’t miss the opportunity to know Arequipa and its surroundings, find out how to get there while you’re here.

Arequipa comprehends a variety of places and natural wonders that will make your experience through Peru more complete and exciting. Find out everything you need to know about the top things to do in Arequipa that will surely be of great addition to your trip.

A Quick Tip: If you are also looking for a singular adventure, do not forget to go on a Colca Canyon tour. We can guarantee you will have so much fun admiring the stunning landscapes of the second deepest canyon in the world. Certainly, this is a journey you won’t like to miss during your visit to Arequipa.

The best option to take this tour is

You must see: