Friday, January 15

500 years of history in one house

Finally, with my mom here, I had another reason to tour this city I live in. I had read in my guidebook and heard from locals that La Mansión del Fundador, Founder's Mansion, was a sight worth seeing. 

We drove to southwest to Huasacache, what surely used to be a small village outside of Arequipa, but has now been eaten up by the urban sprawl.  

On our drive, we witnessed the interesting contrast that characterizes the city--a lush pasture still feeding cattle and growing produce squeezed between upscale neighborhoods with high fence. On the arid hill above the pasture, poor have squatted the land and built shacks made of plywood, cardboard and tires.

The view from the mansion itself captures these contradictions:

The founder's mansion sits in a beautiful meadow surrounded by Arequipa's dry hills, with a spectacular eastern view of the volcano. Up this winding old road, the mansion was hidden from slight. 
What interested me most about the mansion was less the volcanic rock architecture and more the vast survey of Peruvian history this one building tells.

It was built in the 1500s by Arequipa's founder Manuel de Carbajal, who was awarded the land as part of an encomienda (land and labor grant) he received from Spanish rulers. 

During the 1600s, the mansion was a Jesuit retreat before the Spanish kicked them out of Peru. A large chapel can me found on the north end of the mansion:

The property passed through many hands before it ended up with Spaniard Juan de Goyeneche, a prominent military and political leader, in the 1800s.

Under yet other ownership in the late 1800s, the mansion was occupied by the invading Chileans. Drawings of Chilean soldiers etched into the cupboards by a household employee testify to that part of the home's history.

Somewhere along the way, the colonial home acquired a wide collection of European furniture, as you can see in this photo:
In the 1980s, a group of six enthusiasts restored the crumbling mansion and made it available for public visits and events. 

In 2010, my mom, Mary Porter, came all the way from another continent to see it:

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