The city of Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and served as the capital of the New World for the Spanish Viceroyalty for around 280 years. During Spanish occupation, many churches, universities, hospitals, and schools were constructed. Today, little trace of this important period can be found in Lima, save for the Historic Center of Lima.
The Plaza de Armas (with the Cathedral, Sagrario Chapel, and Archbishop’s Palace), the Plaza de la Vera Cruz with Santo Domingo, and the church and convent of San Francisco, are the last remaining vestiges of colonial times in Lima. Additionally, several historic monuments from the colonial period still remain including the bridge of stone over the Rimac River, the Paseo de Aguas, the Alameda de los Descalzos, and the Plaza de Toros de Acho.
As you wander Lima’s Historical City Center, you’ll notice many “box” balconies, elaborate facades, and central patios. All of these details were characteristic of the architecture of colonial Lima. All of the historic monuments within the Historic Center of Lima date from the 17th and 18th centuries, representing renaissance, baroque, neoclassical, and other contemporary styles of the times.
The church and convent of San Francisco, located within the Historic Center of Lima, is one of Latin America’s most complete examples of a convent ensemble of the colonial periods and the largest of its kind in the world. Here you can explore “claustros” still containing original Spanish tile, as well as the church’s underground catacombs. The church and convent of San Francisco was built in the 17th century by a combination of both Spanish craftspeople and indigenous members of the Old World.
Within the Plaza de Armas, or Plaza Mayor as it is also referred, one finds the principal buildings of the colonial period including the Government Palace, the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the City Hall. At its center is a magnificent bronze fountain bearing the coats of arms of Lima, Spain, and the Viceroy Conde de Salvatierra. It is precisely here where Francisco Pizarro founded Lima in 1535 and where, in 1821, José de San Martín declared Peru’s independence.
Around every turn, the Historic Center of Lima is a living example of one of the most definitive periods in Peruvian history. For this, UNESCO officially declared it a World Heritage Site in 1988.
A visit to Lima’s Historic Center is a must during your trip to Peru. Contact a Kuoda Travel Designer to learn more about Lima city tours and sites.