Historic Centre of Lima
The Peruvian capital confuse the traveler. Modern with American-style wide avenues, we are far from the typical image of the country of the Incas. However Lima surprises, hiding architectural treasures, splendid museums and welcoming population. Like the most big cities in the world, some neighborhoods are not recommended.
At first, the Peruvian capital was called "The City of Kings", a name which was influenced by the initial schedule on January 6, 1535, the Three Kings' Day (epiphany), finally took place in delay the January 18th.
However Lima become the capital of the Spanish Colonial Empire in South America for two centuries.
In Peru, the cities do not have a classical structure, an urban center with suburbs. They are a grouping of districts whose boundaries may grow considerably. Lima is the current city center called "Lima cercado". 50 years ago, the southern district of Miraflores was a resort 12 km from Lima, separated by fields. With a strong migration from the Andes, all the towns around Lima have expanded and merged into a megalopolis of over 100 km long. Today, Lima is divided into 43 districts with a population approaching 10 million.
The district of "Lima cercado" bounded by the city's Historic Centre, was 40 years ago the residential district of the capital. Downtown Lima became a popular neighborhood in the 60s due to immigration fom the Andean region, causing migration of the midde- and upper-class to the south. Today renovated, cleaned and cleared of its thousands of street vendors during the past 15 years, the centre of Lima has improved a lot and become a tourist attraction.
Located in the Lima cercado and Rimac areas, the Historic Centre is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991. One of the main features of Lima, are numerous balconies of colonial and republican period, many of them already renewed.
Better known as Plaza de Armas, the main square of Lima is surrounded by beautiful colonial and republican buildings: the cathedral, the government palace and the municipality are the main ones.
Open Mon-Sat 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. – Admission: S/.10 - US$3.50 - 3€
Construction began in 1542 and the building has undergone many reconstructions and transformation after earthquakes in 1609 and 1746, its current appearance dates from 1898. This restructuring has left a mixture of Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo style. The arches supporting the roof are made of wood and stucco, allowing lighten the structure and give flexibility in case of earthquake. The cathedral contains the tomb of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
Next to the cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace with its beautiful balconies, is considered a prime example of neo-colonial architectural that developed in Lima during the early twentieth century.
Casa del oidor
At the next corner, the House of Oidor, a yellow house with green balconies, was the seat of the judicial administration in the colonial period and is one of the oldest houses in Lima (17th century).
Palacio de gobierno
The Government Palace is totally different from the original House of Pizarro built in 1536, destroyed by several earthquakes and fires. The current neo-Baroque building of French inspiration, is the presidential residence.
New construction began in 1926 by the French architect Claude Sahut, then several architects followed until 1938.
Every day at 11:45 am the changing of the guard takes place in front of the building.
Parque de la bandera
The equestrian statue of Pizarro was in this small square on the side of the Government Palace since 1935. In 2003, the mayor of Lima, Luis Castañeda, approved the transfert of the statue in the new Parque de la Muralla behind the San Francisco Convent, a decision welcomed by all of Lima obviously do not consider the Spanish conquistador as a hero.
The Municipal Palace has been rebuilt several times as the other buildings in the main square. The first construction began in 1549 and was known as Colonial Council.
The current building of neocolonial style dates from 1944.
Palacio de la Unión
Beside the municipality, the Club of the Union was created in 1868 with a cultural, social and sporting vocation, composed of personalities from around the country.
The present building was built in 1942.
Around the Plaza Mayor
Located in Jirón Ancash - the right side of the government palace.
The train station built in 1912, is now the Home of the Peruvian Literature (Casa de la Literatura Peruana). However, twice a month, here is the departure of the famous Andean Train to the city of Huancayo in the central Andes.
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco
Located in Jirón Ancash - Open 7 days a week 9:30 am - 5:30 pm - Admission: S/.7 - US$3.50 - 3€
One of the most important architectural complexes of Lima, classified as World Heritage Site in 1988, the Basilica and Convent San Francisco was built and rebuilt several times, thus having various styles.
Among the many wonders that contains the convent, you can highlight the catacombs, the impressive wooden dome and library with 25,000 rare books.
Jirón Conde de Superunda - on the left Government Palace
The old post office is a long glass covered walkway full of vendors of postcards, old stamps, coins, etc.
It was the main post office and today the Peruvian Gastronomy Museum.
Basilica and convent of Santo Domingo
Jirón Camana 170 - Open 7 days a week 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. - Admission: S/.5 - US$1.70 - 1.50€
Several times destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt, here are the tombs of the two main Peruvian saints Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martin de Porres.
Casa de Osambela
jirón Conde de Superunda nº 298 - Open Mon/Fri 9:00 am 1:45 pm and 2:00 pm - 4:45 pm - Free admission
Next to the San Domingo church, this beautiful colonial house of neoclassical rococo style was built in 1805 and is now the cultural center "Garcilaso de la Vega".
Palacio Torre Tagle
jirón Ucayali n°363
The Torre Tagle Palace is one of the most beautiful colonial houses of Lima with beautiful carved wooden balconies and impressive stone front door.
Built in 1735 and renovated in 1956, this building now belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores).
Basilica and Convent of San Pedro
Corner jirón Azángaro and Ucayali
Built in 1558 in Baroque style with particularly decorated interior, was formerly the church of the Lima aristocracy.
Jirón Ica nº 377 corner with calle Rufino Torrico
The municipal theater was built in 1915 and completely destroyed by fire in 1998. Ten years later the municipality decides renewal and invests US$20 million. The School of Fine Arts of Lima involved in the decoration, respecting their original drawings, using 350,000 gold ornaments, decorative pieces and sculptures. Seating Capacity: 1,000.
Jirón de la Unión
It is the pedestrian street linking the Main Square with the San Martin Square. This shopping street is busy and popular.
Jirón de la Unión n° 224 – left side of the Government Palace - Visit only by appointment with travel agencies.
The oldest house in Lima located on the side of the Government Palace was built in 1535 and is one of the few colonial houses in the world that still belongs to the same family for 16 generations. Private events are organized in huge rooms featuring luxurious furniture and decorations.
Corner jirón de la Unión and Antonio Miro Quesada
Located In the pedestrian street jirón of the Unión, this church built in 1535 and restored in the eighteenth century is known for its beautiful facade decorated and contains some of the most beautiful colonial sculptures and a beautiful altar.
Plaza San Martín
Built in the early twentieth century, this square was inaugurated in 1921 to commemorate the centenary of Peruvian independence. In the center we can see the statue of the liberator of Peru, José de San Martín.
South of Historic Centre
South of the San Martin Square, you reach the Paseo de la República also known as the Paseo de los Heroes Navales, a square / ride newly renovated after the construction in 2010 of the Metropolitan Central Station, the new bus line that crosses the city from north to south.
On one side of the Paseo de la República is a building of three floors also known as Roosevelt Palace. It was the first apartment building in Lima, built in 1924 in French "Beaux Arts" style.
Palace of justice
It is located on the left coming from the Historic Center.
This neoclassical building was built in 1938 and inspired by the Justice Palace of Brussels (Belgium).
Opposite the Palace of Justice, the austere building of 33 floors and 109 meters (358 feet) tall, was the tallest building in the country until the construction of the hotel Westin Libertador (120 meters / 394 feet) in the district of San Isidro. With a Brutalist style like its neighbor the hotel Sheraton, both were built in the 70s during the military government of Juan Velasco Alvarado. Until 2007 the Civic Center was a state offices, now is a shopping mall.
Museum of Italian Art
Av. Paseo de la República 250 - Cercado de Lima - Open Tue/Sun 10:00 am - 5:00 pm - Admission: S/.5 - US$1.70 - 1.50€
Beyond hotel Sheraton, this beautiful Neo-Renaissance building is decorated with two large mosaics and is a gift from the Italian community living in Peru to commemorate the centenary of independence in 1921. The museum contains numerous paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and ceramics of Italian art of the 20th century.
In the roundabout at the end of the Paseo de la República, a statue represents the Admiral Miguel Grau, hero of the Pacific War (1879 - 1883) who defeated several Chilean vessels.
Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI)
Paseo Colón nº 125 - Open Tue/Sun 10:00 am - 8:00 pm - Admission: S/.12 - US$4 - 3.50€
To the right of the roundabout, in Paseo Colón avenue, the Art Museum was installed in 1959 into the former Palace of Exhibitions constructed in 1872 for the International Fair of Lima.
The museum features 3000 years of Peruvian Art until today.
Parque de la Exposición
The Park of the Exposition is located in the place of the ancient fortress of the capital and was built in 1870 to organize an international exhibition celebrating 50 years of Peruvian independence. Alongside the park, rose the Museum of Art and also has two unique buildings, the Byzantine and Moorish pavilions.
Open Tue/Sat 10:00 am - 4:40 pm - Admission: S/.8 - US$3 - 2.50€
Across the Park of the Exposition in July 28 avenue, this new Metropolitan Museum (July 2011) is located inside the old building of the Ministry of Transport and Communication. It is a virtual exhibition held with audiovisual high-tech material in 3D, showing 10.000 years of history of Lima.
Circuito Mágico del Agua
Petit Thouars Avenue - Open Tue/Sun 3:00 pm - 10:30 pm - Admission: S/.4 - US$1.40 - 1.20€
Opened in July 2007, the Magic Water Circuit is located in the Parque de la Reserva, a few blocks south of Park of Exposition (Petit Thouars avenue). The Magic Water Circuit have been named the "world´s largest fountain complex in a public park” by the Guinness Book of World Records. 13 computerized fountains with music, lights, images and laser effects offer a great show from Wednesday to Sunday from 3:00 p.m.
Opened in 1952 alongside the Parque de la Reserva, the National Stadium don't have a name. It had a capacity of 45,000 seats, but with the Latin typical football (soccer) fervor broke the attendance record in 1959 with over 50,000 spectators during match Peru vs England ended 4-1 in favor of Peru. There was also a tragedy in 1964 during the match vs Argentina. The referee disallowed the equalizer goal of the local team in 2 minutes left; unhappy fan invaded the pitch and was attacked by police dogs which caused mass hysteria causing 300 deaths.
Fully renovated in 2011, is now one of the most modern in South America, with a running track and capacity increased slightly to 47,000 seats.
The district of Rimac
Behind the Government Palace is the Rimac river that gave its name to the Peruvian capital and the district located across the river. In this neighborhood today popular, you can see some colonial treasures.
Plaza de Acho
It is the oldest bullring in the Americas and the third-oldest in the world after Seville and Zaragoza in Spain. It is also one of the largest with a seating capacity of 14,000. Through October and November, takes place the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles) Festival, considered the most important bullfighting event in America that brings in some of the world's most lauded talent.
Paseo de Aguas
Behind the Plaza de Acho, large arches define the entrance of a beautiful walk around ponds and fountains. Originally it was an aqueduct where the waters of the Rimac river should cascade from the main arche, but the work of French style citing sources from the city of Narbonne, was never completed. The Viceroy Manuel Amat y Juliet ordered the construction of this walk in 1776 to impress your lover La Perricholi.
Alameda de los Descalzos
This other walk then Paseo de Aguas was also performed in honor of La Perricholi. Very fashionable in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was the walking place for Lima's high society. It is said that secret meetings between forbidden lovers and frivolous men flirted with the famous Tapadas, anonymous women taken at the game of seduction were given.
Convento de los Descalzos
Manco Cápac 202 - Rimac - Open 7 days a week 9:30 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 - 17:30 pm - Admission: S/.5 - US$1.70 - 1.50€
This convent was founded in 1595 by Franciscan monks known as the descalzos (barefoot). The convent and the church are more austere than the other colonial buildings of the city, however contain numerous paintings from this period.