More than 400 years ago, the Spanish conqueror (“conquistador”) Francisco Pizarro named Lima the City of the Kings (“Ciudad de los Reyes”). Nowadays, that same city is a metropolis of over 7 million people who proudly preserve the colonial convents and mansions which are symbols of their ancient and noble traditions.
Lima, capital of Peru, founded on January 18, 1535, is a modern city which, while constantly expanding, has also managed to maintain the elegance of its Historic Center. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Center, due to the large number of artistic monuments found there, Historic Lima is an enchanting haven of a period long gone.
Lima’s name comes from the ‘aymara’ word: lima-limac or limac-huayta, the name of a yellow flower; or from the quechua ´rimac´ meaning ‘speaker’. Because of these links with the pre-Hispanic past, its colonial past and the strong religious faith it gave it; its modern outlook and its festive nature, which bathes its eternally gray sky in color, Lima, will always be the City of the Kings.
TOURISTIC PLANES IN LIMA
The visitor to Lima will never be bored, as there are so many nooks and crannies to discover and get to know. Visitors, like the native “Limeños”, will notice that time flies while in the “City of Kings”. So, make the best of your time while there, to visit its old mansions and impressive convents and churches, its pre-Hispanic ruins, its museums and squares and its modern parts as well with its skyscrapers and the neon lights that enliven its busy nightlife
Construction was begun on Lima Cathedral, on the city’s Main Square (Plaza Mayor), with the city’s foundation, on January 18, 1535. Initially a modest church, in 1564, architect Jeronimo de Aliaga designed a temple of monumental dimensions modeled on Seville Cathedral in Spain.
Notable features in its interior are its choir pews, the ivory baroque chapel of La Inmaculada and the Christ donated by Carlos V of Spain, and the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the “conquistador” of Peru.
SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH:
Santo Domingo, the oldest convent in Lima, is one the city’s most peaceful spots due to its harmonious architectural style. Consisting of a series of cloisters and courtyards surrounded by service areas and community halls, to the right of its main altar, you will find the final resting places of Saint Rose of Lima, San Martin de Porres and the beatified Juan Masías. Church and Convent of San Francisco:
Due to its magnificent harmony of volume and color, San Francisco is considered by some as the greatest architectural complex of its kind in Latin America. Its construction was started in 1542 and completed in 1674.The convent, the cloisters and gatehouse are decorated with tiles from Seville. In the basement are underground galleries or catacombs that, during the Viceroyalty, served as a cemetery for the city.
CASA ALIAGA (HOUSE OF ALIAGA):
This mansion was built over the private temple of the native chief Taulischusco, leading authority of the Rimac Valley during Inca times. The house belonged to Jeronimo de Aliaga who was given the land by Francisco Pizarro. Almost uniquely in both Peru and Latin America, the house continues to be occupied by descendants of the conquistador right to this day.
CASA DE PILATOS (HOUSE OF PILATE):
This house is one of the oldest in Lima. Built in 1590 by Jesuit Luis Portillo, it owes its name due to its similarity with the Casa de Pilatos in Seville, Spain.
CASA GOYENECHE OR RADA (HOUSE OF GOYENECHE OR RADA):
One of the first mansions in Lima to display the French influence common in the mid 18th century, it still maintains its traditional structure today, most notably with its balconies and doorways, characteristic of that period.
PALACIO DE TORRE TAGLE (TORRE TAGLE PALACE):
The most beautiful of Lima’s 18th century mansions, due to its true Limeño’ architectural originality, harmoniously combining as it does Andalusian, Moorish, Creole and Asian features. The Palace, nowadays home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has a stone facade and two carved balconies; both authentic “Limeño” architectural jewels.
THE GOVERNMENT (OR PRESIDENTIAL) PALACE:
Located on the Main Square (Plaza de Armas), it houses elegant apartments and halls, in addition to priceless paintings. It is also known as the Casa de Pizarro (House of Pizarro) due to the fact that it stands on the site the conquistador selected to govern from.
PLAZA MAYOR (MAIN SQUARE):
Lima’s Plaza Mayor is the “heart” of the city, lively and Creole to the core, a “heart” which started to beat the very day the city was founded. More beautiful than ever due to its recent renovation, its bronze fountain stands out; with its statue of the Angel of Fame holding a clarion in its left hand and its right a flag bearing both Lima’s and the Crown’s coat of arms.
PLAZA SAN MARTIN (SAN MARTIN’S SQUARE):
This “plaza” was inaugurated in 1921 on the Centennial of Peru’s Independence. The monument in honor of General José de San Martín, Argentine Liberator of Peru, was created by Catalan sculptor, don Mariano Benlluire. The upper part shows the independence warrior ascending the Andes on horseback. The figure is leaning against a granite pedestal, which has the shape of a truncated pyramid with a stepped base.
PANTANOS DE VILLA (VILLA SWAMPS):
A Metropolitan Ecological Park in Chorrillos, 30 minutes from downtown Lima. The swamps or “humedales” (humid lands) stretch over more than 2,000 hectares and are a refuge for migrating birds.