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Andean Sanctuaries Museum of Arequipa

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Andean Sanctuaries Museum of Arequipa

The Andean Sanctuaries Museum of Arequipa is one of the most famous in Peru because it houses the remains of the famous 'Juanita mummy', an Inca girl sacrificed in the high snow-capped mountains of the region during the government of Emperor Pachacutec. The museum is run by the Universidad Católica Santa María. Among the pieces on display are also textiles, ceramics and sculptures used during Inca human sacrifice ceremonies (capacocha ritual). The entrance to the museum has a cost of 15 soles per adult tourist.



The Andean Sanctuaries museum is one of the most important in the city of Arequipa. It is administered by the Catholic University of Santa María). It exhibits Inca pieces that were discovered in the snow-capped mountains of the region. Definitely, the most famous discovery is that of the 'Juanita mummy', an Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 15th century and discovered in the snow-capped Ampato in 1995.


The museum has different rooms where part of the utensils and textiles used in the Inca sacrifice of children and adolescents are exhibited. There are objects such as textiles, small sculptures of silver, gold, ceramics and more. Likewise, the place offers traveling exhibitions of visual art, plastic arts, among others. The visit to this museum is included in the 'City tour' through the city of Arequipa.



The museum is located just 200 meters on foot from Arequipa's Plaza de Armas. It is located at 110 La Merced street.


How to get there?

The best way to go to the museum is to walk from any part of the historic center of Arequipa. To do this, you must take La Merced street (in one of the corners of the Plaza de Armas). If you are outside the city center, you can take a taxi (cost approximately 10 Peruvian soles).


Exhibition halls

The museum was created on December 5, 1996. However, it opened its doors to the public in 1997. The site exhibits 5 rooms with objects found in the Inca sacrifices that were found in the main snow-capped mountains and volcanoes of Peru. The famous Juanita mummy stands out, which is kept isolated from the outside under temperatures of -18ºC.


In the same museum is 'Urpicha', an Inca girl sacrificed and found in the Pichu Picchu volcano in the Arequipa region. Likewise, there is the mummy 'Sarita', an Inca girl found in the Sara Sara volcano in the Ayacucho region. Finally, the remains of another 5 mummies found in the Misti volcano in 1998 are also on display. All of them were probably sacrificed in the Capacocha ritual.


Juanita the mummy

Juanita is the name given to the 'Lady of Ampato', an Inca girl sacrificed in the Capacocha ceremony in the snows of the Ampato volcano in Arequipa. The remains of this woman were found in September 1995 during an exploration at more than 6 thousand meters above sea level. Due to the low temperatures, the body of this girl was in a good state of preservation.


The good condition of her bones and internal organs allowed us to identify that she died at approximately 13 years of age. She was 1.58 centimeters tall. She died from a blow to the head, which produced a 5-centimeter scar on her skull and internal bleeding that ended her existence. Her death would have occurred in approximately 1450, under the reign of the Inca Pachacutec.


The 'capacocha'

The Capacocha was an Inca ceremony of human sacrifices with a deep religious, social and cultural significance. It was carried out in times of drought, natural disasters or diseases. Capacocha comes from a Quechua word (the language of the Incas) that meant 'royal obligation'.


The ritual began with the election of a group of boys or girls from the towns recently annexed to the empire. These had to be beautiful, pure (chaste or virgin) and belonging to the privileged class. The ceremony included a long journey in a straight line (through mountains and snow-capped mountains) to the city of Cusco.


From the city of Cusco, after a ceremony directed by the Inca emperor, a long walk was made towards a huaca or important mountain (the Incas believed that the mountains were gods that ruled over the life of man). There, finally, after a ritual with coca leaves and chicha (alcoholic drink made from fermented corn) the boys or girls were sacrificed.


Visit price

The cost of the entrance ticket for the general public is 15 Peruvian soles (about 5 US dollars, approximately). Those under 18 years of age and university students pay 5 Peruvian soles (2 US dollars, approximately).


Office hours

The museum is open every day of the year, from 9 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon. On Sundays the opening hours are from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.


Additional Information

In addition to the Juanita mummy, the Santuarios Andinos de Arequipa museum exhibits other human remains of Inca sacrifices such as: the Sarita mummy: the remains of a girl sacrificed in the snowy Sara Sara (Ayacucho). In the museum there are a total of 14 mummies, all surrounded by offerings.


The tour of the museum has an average duration of 50 minutes. Before starting to tour the rooms, visitors will appreciate a 20-minute educational video. Then, the visit begins through the rooms until it ends in the final space where the mummies are preserved together with their offerings.


Some advices

During your visit to the city of Arequipa, do not forget to visit some of the other museums such as: the Mario Vargas Llosa house museum, the Cathedral museum, the Contemporary Art museum, the SCSM archeology museum, among others.


The visit to the museum is included in some "City Tour of Arequipa" whose cost is approximately 50 US dollars per person. Another option is to go on your own. At the gate of the place, in exchange for a tip, you can request the services of a professional tour guide.


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If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Tickets in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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