Lima, Peru

Since the City of Kings was founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, it has grown into Peru’s capital with a population of over nine million people. Explore Lima Centro and see why this historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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1 Changing of the Guard at Government Palace in Lima, Peru

Stand in Plaza Mayor in Lima and you are at the 1535 birthplace of this capital city. On each corner is a reflection of Peruvian history including a cathedral and four palaces. One of them is the Government Palace. Palacio de Gobierno houses the executive branch and the president’s residence. Dragoon Guards protect this French Baroque building inside and outside the wrought-iron fence. The changing of the guard ceremony, accompanied by a band, occurs daily at noon.

Jirón Junín & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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2 Peruvian Coat of Arms at Government Palace in Lima, Peru

Beneath this semi-dome on the right side of the Government Palace is the Peruvian coat-of-arms. The shield consists of three elements. In the left corner is a vicuña, the country’s national animal that resembles a llama. On the right is a cinchona tree, a key source for quinine used in tonic water and as an anti-malarial drug. At the bottom is a cornucopia with coins. This represents Peru’s minerals. This National Shield version (Escudo Nacional), which is used on all public buildings, is surrounded by Peruvian flags with a Civic Crown on top.

Jirón Junín & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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3 Staircase Inside of the Archbishop’s Palace in Lima, Peru

A stained-glass ceiling inside of the Archbishop’s Palace floods this marble staircase with colors. The headquarters for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lima and the residence for the cardinal was built in 1924 based on the design of architect Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski. The beautiful neo-colonial structure is located on Plaza Mayor adjacent to the Lima Cathedral.

Jirón Junín & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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4 Artwork Inside of Archbishop’s Palace in Lima, Peru

Since it opened to the public in 2009, the Archbishop’s Palace has offered a delightful tour that should not be missed. You will be treated to about 30 galleries of religious sculptures and paintings dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Also included are old furnishings and the Cathedral’s archives.

Jirón Junín & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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5 Gilded Chapel of Archbishop’s Palace in Lima, Peru

This statue of the crowned Virgin Mary with Child is the centerpiece of the gilded chapel inside of the Archbishop’s Palace. It contains the relics of Turibius of Mogrovejo. Originally a Spanish missionary whose legacy was baptizing over 400,000 people, he was a Roman Catholic Bishop when he died in 1606. He was canonized as a saint in 1726.

Jirón Junín & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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6 Lima Cathedral Along Eastern Edge of Plaza Mayor in Lima, Peru

Anchoring the eastern side of Plaza Mayor, formerly called Plaza de Armas, is the Cathedral of Lima. The cornerstone for this Roman Catholic basilica was placed in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city after conquering the Inca Empire. He was assassinated in 1541. It was not until 1977 that his head was correctly identified and entombed in a crypt within the first chapel on the right side of church.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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7 Twin Bell Towers of Lima Cathedral in Lima, Peru

The cornerstone of the Basilica Cathedral of Lima was laid in 1535 and construction, additions and reconstructions continued through 1940. Those magnificent neo-classical twin bell towers took over forty years to build. They were finished in 1649 based on the design of the Cathedral’s second architect, Francisco Becerra. Flanking the Door of Forgiveness is the Door of the Gospel (left) and the Epistle (right).

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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8 Lima Cathedral’s Door of Forgiveness in Lima, Peru

The Cathedral of Lima has eight entrances. The primary portal is called the Door of Forgiveness. The baroque façade of Portada del Perdón features sculptures of the twelve Apostles. Above them is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with outstretched hands.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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9 Main Altar of Lima Cathedral in Lima, Peru

The beautiful centerpiece of the Basilica Cathedral of Lima is the gilded high altar beneath a vaulted-ribbed ceiling. On top of the silver tabernacle is a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption. On either side of the checkerboard floor are choir seats with carvings of saints, popes and the Apostles. This ornate woodwork took Pedro de Noguera 17 years to complete during the 17th century.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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10 St. John the Evangelist Chapel in Lima Cathedral in Lima, Peru

Nicolás de Ribera sailed with Francisco Pizarro during the discovery and exploration of Peru in the early 16th century. On the fourth day after Lima was founded, he became the city’s first mayor. His remains are entombed in this chapel dedicated to St. John the Evangelist at the Lima Cathedral. The center statue is an image of Christ Auxilio.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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11 Our Lady of Candelaria Chapel in Lima Cathedral in Lima, Peru

This neoclassical side chapel at the Cathedral of Lima is the work of Matías Maestro Alegría from the late 18th century. It celebrates the 1594 appearance of a Virgin Mary statue on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. The Virgin of Candelaria is always represented holding the Christ Child in one hand and a candle in the other. The Candlemas feast day for La Morenita is February 2.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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12 Saint John the Baptist Side Chapel in Lima Cathedral in Lima, Peru

Along the two side aisles of the Lima Cathedral are 14 chapels. Each is adorned with elaborate paintings, sculptures and carvings. Only one of them was built prior to 1890. The others were reconstructed after suffering from multiple earthquakes. This colorful panel by Spanish artist Juan Montañés is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Its Spanish name is Capilla de San Juan Bautista.

Jirón Huallaga & Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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13 Palace of the Union in Lima, Peru

The Club de la Union is a social association for Peruvian military officers and politicians. It was founded in 1868 by several men who were national heroes during the War of the Pacific. Since 1942, the club members have enjoyed the facilities at the Palacio de la Unión. This National Monument is located along the west side of Plaza Mayor. This historic city square is also called Plaza de Armas.

Jirón de la Unión 364 Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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14 House of Peruvian Literature in Lima, Peru

This yellow, Beaux-Arts façade with a clock on top was the Desamparados train station when it was designed by Rafael Marquina and then opened in 1912 near the Rímac River. It served as the main terminal for the Ferrocarril Central Andino railway line. In 2009, the Estación de Desamparados was repurposed as the House of Peruvian Literature. Inside this educational and cultural center are displays regarding the country’s literature and famous authors.

Jirón Ancash 207, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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15 San Francisco Church, Convent and Museum in Lima, Peru

The San Francisco Church and Convent with its three bell towers was finished in 1746. Dedicated to Saint Francis, the Iglesia y Convento San Francisco were designed in a stunning Spanish Baroque style. This Roman Catholic complex contains two chapels: El Milagro and La Soledad. Inside the monastery are numerous frescos, an amazing library with over 25,000 volumes of religious works and the Museo y Catacumbas with more than 30,000 skeletons arranged in patterns. The latter is interesting but kind of macabre.

Jirón Ancash 364, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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16 Ramon Castilla Statue in Lima, Peru

Ramón Castilla y Marquesado is an extremely interesting historical figure. In 1817, he began his military career as part of the Spanish forces while fighting against the liberators during the War of Independence. After being a POW, he switched loyalties and fought against the Spaniards during the Battle of Ayacucho. Marshall Ramón Castilla went on to become the president of Peru four times. After his death in 1867, his body was buried in a crypt at the Pantheon of Heroes. This bronze statue by David Lozano was erected in 1915 at La Merced Square along Jirón De La Unión.

Jirón de la Unión 606, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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17 Architecture Along Jirón de la Unión in Lima, Peru

Jirón de la Unión, a boulevard created in 1535 by the city’s founder Francisco Pizarro, is a five block pedestrian link between Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martín. It once represented the glory of Lima Centro. This shopping district has lost a lot of its former status. Better shopping alternatives can be found in Miraflores or the big malls. But architecture fans will enjoy the colorful facades. Along the way you will catch glimpses of baroque, rococo, neo-classicism, art nouveau and neo-colonial. Almost all have ornate balconies and were built after the 1746 earthquake leveled the city.

Jirón de la Unión 790 Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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18 Gran Hotel Bolivar in Lima, Peru

When the Gran Hotel Bolivar opened in 1924 along the northwestern edge of Plaza San Martin, it was exclusive and considered the height of luxury. Some of its 99 rooms have accommodated the social elite and famous from Latin America and around the world. Although this National Monument has lost some of its luster over the decades, its first floor décor with a stained-glass dome, marble columns and carved wood still whispers about its former grandeur.

Jirón de la Unión 958, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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19 General José de San Martin Equestrian Statue in Lima, Peru

The Peruvian War of Independence against the Spaniards began in 1811 and did not officially end until 1824. However, after successfully liberating Lima in 1821, an Argentine General named José de San Martin declared Peruvian Independence on July 28. The military leader is considered to be the founder of the Republic along with Simón Bolívar. This equestrian statue of San Martin, the Protector of Peru, was erected in Plaza San Martin during the centennial anniversary. Ironically, the monument was created by a Spanish sculptor named Mariano Benlliure.

Av. Nicolás de Piérola & Jirón Carabaya Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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20 Colon Theater in Lima, Peru

The construction of the Colon Theater predates the Plaza San Martin that it now anchors. The former municipal theater was a cultural and social cornerstone when it was built in 1914. As it declined, Teatro Colon became a venue for cinema and then a porn theater. It became unoccupied in 2003 but apparently a restoration project is underway. The San Martin Square was finished in 1921.

Jirón de la Unión 1006, Cercado de Lima Lima 1, Peru
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21 Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Lima, Peru

In 1603, a Portuguese man named Luis de Ojeda established the Parish Orphans Hospice of Our Lady of Atocha. This orphanage and medical facility for homeless children was the foundation for the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Iglesia de los Huerfanos is located near University Park.

Jirón Azangaro & Jirón Apurímac , Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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22 German Clock Tower at University Park in Lima, Peru

On the occasion of Peru’s centennial anniversary of independence, the local German community commissioned architect Friedrich Jordon to build this 98 foot clock tower as a gift to Lima. The red and white striped, concrete German Torre was erected in 1923. Twice a day it plays the opening notes of the National Anthem. Also seen here in University Park are two monuments. The standing bronze statue by Jose Luis Agurto portrays Sebastián Lorente, the founder of the National College of our Lady of Guadalupe in Lima. The white marble sculpture by Manuel Cotolí is a tribute to Hipólito Unanue. He founded a medical school which became the National University of San Marcos.

Jirón Sandia & Av. Nicolás de Piérola, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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23 Pantheon of Heroes Foyer in Lima, Peru

This impressive foyer was part of a church built in 1746. In 1876 it became the National University of San Marcos’s chapel. But then in 1924, on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Peruvian War of Independence, the war dead were honored by being reburied beneath the altar. It is now called the Panteón de los Próceres or the Pantheon of Heroes.

Av. Nicolás de Piérola 1220, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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24 Indigenous Farmer with Oxen Statue in Lima, Peru

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century and the Inca Empire before them (1438 – 1533), the indigenous people of the Ichma culture lived in the valleys surrounding present day Lima. This bronze of a farmer with two oxen in a yoke is a tribute to those pre-Columbian ancestors. “La Yunta” which means “Work” was sculpted in 1937 by Peruvian artist Ismael Pozo Velit. The statue stands in front of the Palace of Justice on Paseo de Republica.

Av Paseo de la República & Jirón Miguel Aljovin, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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25 Palace of Justice in Lima, Peru

The Supreme Court of Peru consists of three sectors: civil, criminal and constitutional courts. The country’s highest judicial system has been housed in the Palacio de Justica since 1938. Its imposing neoclassical design by architect Bruno Paprocki was inspired by Brussel’s Palace of Justice.

Av Paseo de la República & Jirón Miguel Aljovin, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
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26 Museum of Italian Art in Lima, Peru

Given its Spanish origins, you expected to see European art in Lima’s museums but not one dedicated entirely to Italy’s artists. However since it opened in 1923, thanks to generous donations by local Italian residents, the Museo de Arte Italiano has been building and exhibiting a collection of 20th century Italian paintings, drawings, ceramics and statues. The museum has been managed by Nacional de Cultura since 1972.

Av Paseo de la República & Av. España, Cercado de Lima Lima 1, Peru
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27 Museum of Art in Lima, Peru

This building was co-designed by Antonio Leonardi and Gustave Eiffel. The palace opened in 1871 as part of Peru’s celebration of their first fifty years of independence from Spanish rule. 90 years later, in 1961, it became the exhibition hall for the Museo de Arte de Lima. The MALI’s extensive collection contains works of art dating back to ancient Peru through the 20th century.

Paseo Colon 125, Cercado de Lima Lima 1, Peru
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