Visiting Lima Downtown for the first time? This post focuses on the historic buildings surrounding the iconic Plaza Mayor, or Plaza de Armas (Main Square). These happen to be also very nice pieces of architecture, so let’s learn a little about them.
The Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno): founded by Francisco Pizarro too, on the place where the former cacique (chief) Taulichusco used to live, it has grown during centuries until becoming the big, luxury palace it is today; in fact, earthquakes, fires and revolts have required several restorations and remodeling, so nowadays it is believed that the only one original element is a tree, that was allegedly planted by Pizarro. It is possible to visit it, but you will need to make an appointment with the Public Relations office (Conde de Superunda N° 264). Don’t miss the colorful change of guard ceremonial, which takes place everyday at noon.
The Municipality, or Palacio Municipal: the house of Lima’s local government, in addition to being a beautiful Neoclassical building, its huge white marble staircase reminds of the rich Viceregal times. It also houses a large collection of Lima old photographs, as well as paintings from Peruvian painter Ignacio Merino. Its main attraction, however, is the Biblioteca Municipal (Municipal Library) that preserves historical documents, like the Lima’s Foundation Act or the Official Declaration of the Peruvian Independence. This place has also been re-built several times due to damages caused by earthquakes. Open Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm
The Archbishopric Palace (Palacio Arzobispal): The first building of Neo-Colonial style, it was designed in 1916, on the residence of Lima Archibishop: it is still the current Cardinal’s residence. It is located right to the left of the Cathedral, and its architecture and décor resemble very well the colonial ones. Since 2010 there is also a Museum there, that showcases some of the best and most representative pieces of religious art from the Archbishopric collection (entrance fee: S/. 30, which includes a visit to the Cathedral’s Museum). Open Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm.
The Cathedral: the most important Catholic temple in Lima, it is located at the Plaza Mayor (or Plaza de Armas). It was founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18th, 1535, which personally started its construction the very same day of the city’s Spanish foundation. It was inaugurated on March 11th, 1540 as a small church, but the building you see nowadays is the result of several reconstructions due to earthquakes and remodeling. It has become, however, the oldest architectonic work in Lima, and in addition to showcasing numerous art works on its walls, it houses the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador, and a museum of religious art (entrance fee: S/. 10). The Cathedral rich altars of mahogany and gold, and the spectacular carvings of the choir seats are worth seeing. There are catacombs under the main altar, keeping the remains of the former bishops: a lot of history and a summary of religious architecture in Peru.
All photos courtesy of J. Enrique Molina