The Museum of Andean Sanctuaries offers an intimate glimpse into the ancient history of the Andes Mountains. After watching a short video that puts the museum’s cultural relics into context, visitors can wander the atmospheric rooms, which are filled with artifacts discovered during a significant Andean excavation.
The highlight of the museum’s collection is undoubtedly the preserved mummy of the Ice Maiden, Juanita, a young Inca girl whose remains were discovered in 1995. Juanita was killed more than 600 years ago as part of a capacocha ceremony, during which children were sacrificed to appease mountain gods. The child is thought to have been between 11 and 15 years old, and the body is so well-preserved that it has been touted numerous times as one of the world's top discoveries.
Visit the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries on your own, or as part of a guided tour of Arequipa that includes hotel pickup and drop-off.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Museum of Andean Sanctuaries is a must-do for history buffs and travelers looking to put Peruvian culture into context.
- Allow at least an hour to see everything in the museum, as there is also a short informational video to watch before you explore.
- The museum’s tour is free, but tips for your guide are expected. Tours are conducted in English, Spanish, and French.
- Due to the cool temperatures required to preserve ancient artifacts, the museum can get chilly. Take a sweater.
How to Get There
Located on Calle la Merced, the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries is a short walk from Plaza de Armas, the hub of the historical center of Arequipa.
When to Get There
The museum is open every day. Hours vary depending on the day, so check online before going. For preservation purposes, Juanita is on display for only six months of the year; another mummy takes her place during the other months.
The Significance of the Ice Maiden
According to archaeologists, the pristine preservation of Juanita’s body is due to the freezing temperatures at the top of the 20,000-foot (6,000-meter) peak on which she was discovered. Her body was found only after a volcanic eruption melted the ice surrounding the tomb, which had been encased for hundreds of years. The analysis of Juanita’s DNA has afforded invaluable insight into Inca culture and anthropology.