The San Camilo market shows the life, and cuisine, of Arequipa
Salkantay Trek Machu
Sustainable Tourism Operator
+51 912 891560

The San Camilo market shows the life, and cuisine, of Arequipa

Home / Travel Blog / The San Camilo market shows the life, and cuisine, of Arequipa
The San Camilo market shows the life, and cuisine, of Arequipa

San Camilo is the total market, the largest in the south of the country; For many, the great market of Peru. In addition, it is one of the centers of life in Arequipa, in the southern mountains of the country and an essential visit for those who want to know, or confirm, the identity of the city.


Arequipa distills cuisine. It is breathed in every corner, in conversations, forms and desires. Everything converges around its markets, headed by the most impressive of all: San Camilo. Founded before the end of the 19th century and definitively built in the year 38 - they say that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the metal structure that covers and supports it - three blocks from the Plaza de Armas, in the historic center of the city.


San Camilo is a spectacular and exciting showcase of the state of a city that makes a difference in Peru. Also in the kitchen. The strength and weight of the spicy shops and those imposing women who are the spicy shops (there are already three men among them), permeates all the fabrics of the city: a cuisine always hooked on taste memory, which supports the survival of the traditional pantry. , and to preparations that speak of a bourgeois past that viewed cuisine with refinement, but without ever renouncing its roots.


Everything is shown in the stalls of this neat, orderly and curious market, with high and imposing ceilings, designed to ensure freshness in a city that lives a love relationship with the sun, almost always present, and to facilitate ventilation. In the row of stalls at the sinners, the flying fish egg cups, the dried shrimp, the shrimp - today I don't see the half-dried frog legs, in other times hanging in rows above the stalls - the dried shrimp tails, the cecial fish, the last nice ones of the season, and then those of the fresh cheeses of the area, or the alley, this time with full-fledged stalls, of herbs, which are those of the kitchen –achira, leaves for wrapping, huatacay (here they mix up the usual name: huacatay) or bases for emollients, but above all they are those for remedies and invocations.


There are the bakeries - open stalls; Here what others bake is delivered -, with sacks full of chaplas and the three-pointed breads, triangular, clear, hollow, with a semi-crispy crust and with a thin layer of crumb stuck to the crust, which define the cuisine of this land. . And behind them, the Arequipa hat sellers; fine straw and wide brim to prevent the sun and its radiation from punishing the neck and face. And at the end of it all, as if framing the upper part of the market, the juice shops, with their stalls full of fruit, their aprons with doilies, always a meter above the customers, and their almost endless stock lists, running through their domains. : juices, juices with orange, juices with water, juices with evaporated milk, smoothies, with and without black beer...


Two aisles down, the interiors and the meats that today we consider strange, and the cheesy call exotic. In this market, the stalls are numbered, and 11 is reserved for salted and dried meats, whether alpaca or lamb: charqui, loins, heads, udders, and bones, protagonists in the construction of the white broths they serve. based on Arequipa stews; Chalonas without lamb, mocontullo when they come from the knee of the cow.


When the cuisine preserves its roots and is not a victim of its own prejudices, the interiors play a leading role: legs and criadillas in the traditional spicy brambles, udder, tongue, liver, kidneys, intestines, stomachs, tails and heads to feed the stews traditional.


You find everything. Black and white chuño, Andean potatoes, ocas, ollucos and arracachas, barley, wheat - the base of sango, also present in pear timpusca... - a few varieties of corn, including guiñapo, already germinated and dried, necessary for prepare chicha, the same chicha, sold by liters to drink or cook, fruits, dried figs, vegetables from local gardens...


Arequipa cuisine, which is called spicy cuisine, would be dead without this pantry.


How to get?

From Arequipa's Plaza de Armas, the best way to go to the San Camilo market is on foot. To do this, you must take Álvarez Thomas Street to San Camilo Street, where the market is located. The walking route takes approximately 10 minutes.



The history of the market begins during the colonial era, who were the precursors of the 'Red Cross'. In 1813 the construction of the 'Convent of Good Death and Church of San Camilo de Lelis' began, which was completed in 1817. According to the scholar Juan G. Valdivia, the church was the most beautiful in Peru. In 1868, the city of Arequipa suffered one of the strongest earthquakes in its history. By then, the order had abandoned the temple for more than 40 years. The church had been serving as a military hospital (during the civil war between Salaverry and Santa Cruz) and school.


On May 1, 1938, the current structure of the San Camilo market was inaugurated there. It was a project required by the city. Until then, street markets were held in the main square. In 1958 and 1960 the city suffered two earthquakes that damaged the market façade. In the 1980s, reconstruction was carried out until it acquired its modern form. In 1987, the market was declared 'Monumental Historical Heritage of Arequipa'. It is also considered Cultural Heritage of the Nation of Peru.


More information

The architecture of the San Camilo market is modern. Its interior is covered by a light iron roof (similar to the San Pedro market in Cusco). For this reason, it is believed that it was the work of the French architect Gustave Eiffel.


During some special dates, the San Camilo market offers some typical products of the region. For example, during Holy Week, there is an abundance of tasty breads typical of the region such as: wheat bread, three-cornered bread and more.


Some advices

The markets are places where, in addition to getting various products, you can learn more about the culture of the Arequipeños. During your visit to the 'White City' do not miss the opportunity to meet them. In addition to the San Camilo market, you can visit: Antiquilla market, San Antonio market, El Palomar market and more.


Visiting the San Camilo market is free. You can go at any time of the year, from 6 in the morning to 7.30 at night. A good option to have breakfast or lunch there. You can try some famous Peruvian dishes at a very affordable price (from 8 Peruvian soles).


Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.

Request information

Date of travel:

Number of people:
How did you hear about us:

Most Popular Trips

Peru Destinations

Activities & Travel Styles

Responsible Travel

Before You Go

Travel Blog

Contact us

Why Salkantay Trek Machu?


Write a review

Write a review in Tripadvisor

Salkantay Trek Machu Facebook
Salkantay Trek Machu Twitter