peru Travel

Lima Highlights

Lima is filled with enough colonial houses, churches, and plazas to keep sightseers happy for weeks. The Plaza de Armas is a great place to start seeing Lima highlights since it is close by beautiful cathedrals and colonial palaces that have historical significance. Also be sure to check out the eerie catacombs of the Monasterio de San Francisco and the historic cathedrals that have survived several destructive earthquakes.

Plaza de Armas
Once the center of Lima, the oldest structure remaining is the beautiful bronze fountain that was built in 1650. To the left of the plaza are the ornate balconies of the Palacio Arzobispal, which used to be the Archbishop's palace. On the northeast side is the Palacio de Gobierno, the residence of Peru's president. The ceremonial changing of the guards takes place at noon. A free tour of the presidential palace is offered but you have to reserve a spot 48 hours in advance at the nearby Office of Public Relations at Plaza Pizarro 201.

La Catedral de Lima
The cathedral was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1746 but luckily the reconstruction was based on the early plans, so the structure closely resembles the original. The interior has a beautifully carved choir and a religious museum in the rear. The remains of Francisco Pizarro rest here in a coffin in the mosaic-covered chapel to the right of the main entrance. Visiting hours are 9am-4:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4:30pm Sat.

Monasterio de San Francisco
This Franciscan monastery is famous for its spooky catacombs and library filled with ancient texts. There are 70,000 burials in the underground catacombs that are arranged in concentric circles made from bones. The church is a very well preserved baroque style building with some Moorish influences. Admission includes a 45 minute guided tour. Hours are 9:45am-6pm.

Iglesia de Santo Domingo
The Iglesia de Santo Domingo is one of Lima's most historical churches. It was built on land donated by Francisco Pizarro and construction began in 1540. Later much of the interior was modernized to resemble the style of the 18th century. It contains the tombs of Saint Rose and Saint Marin de Porres, one of the few black saints. 9am-12:30pm and 3-6pm Mon-Sat,9am-1pm Sun.

Palacio Torre Tagle
There are many colonial mansions in Lima, but the impressive Palacio Torre Tagle is a good place to start. Located at Ucayali 363, the interior is filled with striking wooden balconies that have a Moorish influence. Today it contains the offices of the Foreign Ministry so entry on weekdays is restricted to the patio. On Saturdays there is access to some rooms and the upstairs balconies.

Peru: Lima | Cusco | Amazon | Manu | Nazca

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