Arequipa has the nickname of the “White City” for its beautiful white structures made of “sillar”, a white volcanic rock present in the region. Due to it’s unique beauty, a route was made to discover the ashlar: the Ruta del Sillar (Volcanic Rock Route).
Keep reading to learn more about the Ruta del Sillar, tour options, and more!
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Located on the outskirts of the city, the Sillar Route spans over 2km (1.2mi) in the Cerro Colorado district. On the base of the inactive Chachani Volcano, the district divides into 3 locations – Añashuayco, Cortadores, and Virgen de Culebrillas. Each location have their own ashlar quarries (canteras) formed thousands of years ago due to the volcanic activity. Upon its creation, the ashlar has played a huge role in the construction of the city.
Along the Ruta del Sillar, you’ll walk through the quarries and learn more about the importance of the “sillar” (white ashlar). Some reasons why this element was so important to Arequipa’s construction was because of its lightness, softness, and porosity. Besides the white sillar, you can find pink and yellowish ashlar in the surroundings of the city. These different colors are caused by the different minerals within these elements, giving them a particular and unique pigmentation.
During the colonial era, the white ashlar was used for most structures, one of the more recognized ones being the Santa Catalina Monastery, dating back to the late 1500s. The Santo Domingo and La Merced churches are also a few of the main structures made of sillar, as well as the arches found in the Yanahuara Viewpoint (pictured below).
Through the route you’ll also witness ancestral process of extraction, production and the man-made carvings of sculptures made of the ashlar in real time.
It’s possible to reach the quarries in public or private transport, but it tends to be a difficult task. If going with public transport, it’ll usually consist of combinations of different buses/combis until reaching the nearest spot to the quarry. From there, you’ll have to walk around 5km to get there. And if reaching seems hard, going back to Arequipa can be a nightmare as not many buses go back to the city, making it near impossible to get back sometimes.
The best way to truly visit the Ruta del Sillar is with a guided tour departing from Arequipa. We get into detailed information below.
With a guided tour, the top benefit is a round-trip transport to and from the Ruta del Sillar directly to your hotel/hostel. An experienced guide is present leading the way teaching you the history of the important quarries and volcanic stones. Daily departures available at 2 different times, only half a day and cheap prices have made it one of the most popular tours in Arequipa.
To find the best tour options, we recommend you check out findlocaltrips.com, where you’ll be able to compare Ruta del Sillar tours and book the best one!
This is the usual itinerary of a tour to Ruta del Sillar. Keep in mind that it’s the itinerary for the morning departure.
For more details, check out findlocaltrips.com.
The Ruta del Sillar price goes from $12 to $16, making it one of the cheapest tours in Arequipa.
Other tours to go on:
The white sillar will always be an important asset to the construction of many structures in Arequipa and Peru. At the moment, the quarries are still worked and are also open to the public. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover them when visiting the White City!
Arequipa comprehends a variety of places and natural wonders that will make your experience through Peru more complete and exciting. Make sure to check out our Arequipa Info page for everything you need to know about the city and our Top Things To Do in Arequipa page to make the most of your time here!