After the Cathedral, this is probably the place that houses the largest number of historic and religious relics in Lima, Peru, and whether you are a Christian or not, visiting Santo Domingo is definitely a must.
A little of its history: Santo Domingo, the priory and church of Saint Dominic (formerly named priory and church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario) was founded in 1,541, that is, only a few years after Lima’s foundation, with the help of many local residents, who made huge donations and even bought burial places for them and their descendants.
The Dominican Order settled here, in the land plot that conquistador Francisco Pizarro granted to the Dominican Order, and built a huge convent (the first convent this city ever had, actually) and a majestic Baroque church that were not fully concluded until 1583.
Nowadays, after undergoing surviving many earthquakes and restoration works, Santo Domingo still attracts hundreds of visitors daily.
Among the great number of relics housed here, we can mention a Splinter of the True Cross, located in a special chapel built beside the main church; at the right hand side of the Main Altar, under a retablo (reredos) lie the remains of Saint Rose of Lima, Patroness of Peru, Latin America and Phillipines, who was in fact a Dominican Tertiary; the remains of Saint Martin de Porres (the first South American, mulatto saint) and those of beatified Juan Macias.
The 60m. high main tower is one of the tallest in Lima downtown, and there are three naves inside the main church: the Choir, in carved in cedar, the Chapel of the Rosary and the Chapel of Saint Rose.
In addition to its notable architecture and the many Baroque art pieces, the nice and peaceful Convent’s cloisters are well worth a visit, too: they have been declared Unesco Heritage Center. There is site museum open to the public, that provides Spanish and English speaking guides.
So, don’t forget to include this place in your Lima city tour!