domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Discovering Lima, Historical Center & Religious Buildings (II)

When in 1535, the spaniard conqueror Francisco Pizarro founded Lima (known as the City of Kings), he could not even imagine that the city inhabited by some 200,000 indians would now come to have more than 8.5 million habitants.

The second largest city built in a desert (after Cairo) houses an amalgam of cultures ranging from Asian (Chinese and Japanese), mixed race, afro-peruvian, the european, or the indigenous. undoubtedly such a mixture of blood had to have its influence in the peruvian gastronomy, although that is a subject that we will touch later.

As a curiosity, etymologically the word Lima comes from an erroneous derivation that the spaniards gave to the Rimac River (in quechua Speaker River), that passes by the city and named by the noise that produced its waters against the rocks.

To be honest, the city of Lima is not a pretty city. More like habitants of this great city, we would say that it is an unfriendly city (with all respect for the timid attempts of reconstruction of the historic area and reviving cultural life).

The internal conflict in the 80's between the Peruvian Army and the subversive group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) produced a great migration from the mountains to the capital, that made the city grow from 600 thousand habitants to 8.5 millons currently.

The first thing that a visitor can appreciate to get to Lima is the chaos: sound of horns, shouts, infernal traffic especially in rush hour (8.00 am and 6:00 pm), street vendors in various parts  around of the city, etc.

Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Religious Buildings (II)

For security reasons the progress of the districts of Rímac, La Victoria, Callao, Comas, Los Olivos, San Juan de Lurigancho, Villa El Salvador, El Agustino or Vitarte.


The historical center of Lima is the X in the map that the spaniards drew and from where the old capital of the viceroyalty began to expand. The Main Square (Plaza de Armas) has the most emblematic buildings of the city such as the Archbishop's Palace (dating from 1924) and has beautiful wooden moorish balconies.

The Government Palace, with a baroque style is the residence of the president of the Republic of Peru; or the Cathedral of Lima. In the Government Palace at 12.00 pm each day, the change of guard is performed, in which the band soldiers play marching songs ranging from El Condor pasa ( The Condor passes) to Billy Jean, or the Imperial March, from Star Wars.

Archbishop's Palace, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings


Is annexed to the Episcopal Palace and was erected on the first church that Pizarro had built in the city.  Admission costs S / 10 at times from 9.00-17.00 Mon-Fri; 10.00-13.00 Sat. Tlf: (01) 4279647. In the cathedral are the remains of Pizarro in a chapel covered with mosaic.

Cathedral of Lima, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings

A series of studies suggest by authentic the rest of the founder of Lima that were in the crypt. Francisco Pizarro was stabbed to death by the almagrists on June 26, 1541.In the box of lead that keeps his remains you can read: "Here lies the head of the knight Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro, who discovered and won the kingdoms of Peru”.

Pizarro's Grave, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings


Around the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) there are several churches and monasteries that date from the time of the colony and that are authentic works of art worth visiting. One of the most famous is the CHURCH OF SANTO DOMINGO, located in Camaná street 170, a few blocks from the Main Square.

Santo Domingo Church, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings

In this convent San Martín de Porres, America's first black saint, spent much of his life and was also buried here. Also in this religious complex are the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima, first saint of America and Patroness of Lima. In Santo Domingo was also founded the University of San Marcos, the oldest university of Peru and America.

This complex is easily recognizable by the Tower of Santo Domingo, 46 meters high, with three white bodies and pink rococo style. In its dome is a statue of the Angel of Fame.Inside the convent stands the library, with about 25 thousand books, some of them of great documentary and artistic value. SCHEDULE: Mon-Sat 9.00-12.30 and 15.00-18.00; Sun 9 am to 1 pm). Free church entrance; Convent S / 5. Tel. (01) 427-6793.


This church and monastery is another treasure of the historic center of the city. On the corner of Anchash and Lampa streets, the religious complex of baroque style stands out for the bright yellow color of its exterior walls.

Its main attraction is in the catacombs, which were the resting place for members of the brotherhoods and where can be observed piles of aligned bones (it is estimated that there are about 70 thousand graves). These were used for these purposes until the beginning of the 19th century.

In the Museum Room of San Francisco are shown 11 paintings of the Passion of Christ by Baroque artist Pedro Pablo Rubens; The refectory also exhibits 13 paintings of the life of Jacob and his twelve children, attributed to the study of the painter Francisco de Zurbarán.

Another of the jewels of this church is the moorish dome carved in nicaraguan cedar, dating from 1625 (And restored in 1969). SCHEDULE: Mon-Sun 9.00 to 17.30. General admission S / 10; Students S / 5; Children S / 1. Entrance includes guided tour. Phone: (01) 426-7377.

San Francisco Church and Monastery, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings


This church was founded in 1535 by Fray Miguel de Orenes. It is located in the famous Jiron de la Unión (Union Street) adjacent to the Plaza de Armas and that for decades was the main commercial artery of the city of Lima.Its facade is of chirrigueresque style (late stage of the baroque) and is carved in granite of Panama.In it stands the image of the Virgin of the Mercedes in a niche.

After the earthquake of 1746 the church was restored and included, among other elements, Solomonic columns.

In its interior are a series of Baroque and Renaissance altarpieces carved in mahogany, considered authentic works of art of the viceregal period. A large silver cross belonging to the mercedarian priest Pedro Urraca, who died in Lima in 1657 at age 73, is located near the entrance and is the object of Pilgrimage for thousands of believers who come to ask for miracles for all kinds of ills and infertility. SCHEDULE: Mon-Sun 10.00 to 12.00 and 17.00 to 19.00. Free entrance. Phone: (01) 427-8199.

La Merced Church, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings


Also located in the historic center of Lima (between the busy Tacna Avenue, Huancavelica and Chancay streets), we should not miss in our visit, the Sanctuary of the Nazarenes, a religious complex run by the Discalced Carmelite Nazarene Mothers and dedicated to the cult of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles).

The Señor de los Milagros festival is the main Catholic celebration in Peru and one of the biggest processions in the world.

The story tells that here in 1651, under divine inspiration, an Angolan slave painted the image of Christ on the cross on an adobe wall. This sacred image was the center of the High Altar of the Sanctuary of the Nazarenes, the only one left standing miraculously after the earthquake that struck Lima on November 14, 1655.

Every October 18 is celebrated the central day of the procession of the Lord of Miracles, which attracts thousands of devotees of Peru and other parts of the Region. SCHEDULE: Mon-Sun 7.00 to 13.00 and 17.00 to 21.00. Free entrance. Phone: (01) 423-5718.

Las Nazarenas Church, knowing Lima, Lima city tour, Religious Buildings


Although in this post we have listed previously the main religious centers of the historical center of Lima,t is worth mentioning some others that may be of interest to the visitor. SANCTUARY OF SANTA ROSA DE LIMA. Very close to the Church of the Nazarenes (Tacna Avenue with Callao) was built next to the house where the cited patroness of Lima, America and the Philippines lived.

Inside this house-garden, you will find the well of desires, where every August 30 (day of the feast of the saint) thousands of devotees launch their petitions to receive their miracles. SCHEDULE: Mon-Sun 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.). Free entrance. Phone: (01) 425-1279.

SAN PEDRO CHURCH. Jesuit Temple located in Azángaro street with the fourth block of Ucayali street, in the center of Lima, just three blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Built around 1636 in imitation of the Church of the Heart of Jesusin Rome. Of Renaissance design, a work of the jesuit Martín de Aizpitarte, this church was the favorite of Lima aristocracy of XVIII century.

The facade is of baroque style and only opens its two side doors during Holy Week or other important festivities. It has in its interior 14 chapels with peruvian altarpieces and sculptures of Moorish style. Bartolomé Román built one of the oldest series of angels in America. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM. At 4:00 p.m.). Free entrance. Phone: (01) 428-3010.


This church is located between the junction of the fourth block of Camaná street and the second block of Ica (San Agustin Street). Founded in July 1574 by the archbishop of Lima, Jeronimo de Loayza, since its inauguration, the site went through several reconstructions, one of them after the earthquake of 1687.

In 1701 began the construction of its main front, churrigueresque style, which has 10 niches of diferent saints images, with the statue of St. Augustine treading on two heretics as the main image.

In the corridor of the sacristy we can observe the most significant wood sculpture of the enclosure, the work of the mestizo sculptor Baltasar Gavilán, called "La muerte".

Legend says that after receiving the congratulations of the religious of the order, Don Baltasar got drunk and woke up at midnight in his home and see his creation, screamed and went crazy, dying that same night.

The work is usually exhibited in other exhibitions, so it is advisable to call beforehand. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 8.00 to 9.00 and 14.30 to 19.30. Free entrance. Phone: (01) 427-7548.

In this post we have focused on the colonial religious history of the city of Lima. In the next post we will see other places of interest and some routes that we can do in the center of the City of Kings. We still have a lot to see!

Esteban García, Peru Travels Blog
April 2017

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