Walking Tour of Lima, Peru
Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru. It lies on the west coast of South America, along the banks of the Rio Rimac. The city sprawls and is, unfortunately characterized by the presence of shanties and shacks, pueblos jovenes, in the hills surrounding the city. It can be dangerous in certain parts of the city and at certain times of the day.
However, its historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has a number of interesting attractions and it provides a good base for the exploration of this part of Peru. Although the city is old (1535), much of its buildings and tourist sights are more recent, because of an earthquake which occurred in 1746 and leveled almost the entire city.
My walk begins on Lima’s Main Square, the Plaza de Armas. The most prominent building on the square is Le Catedral (The Cathedral), located in the southeastern corner of the plaza. Its distinctive yellow color and Baroque design make it a magnet for photographers. The church is the final resting place of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city in 1535, although his remains were not brought here until much later. The interior contains some notable wood-carvings and Churrigueresque altars. Next to the cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace.
On the north side of the square is the Governor’s Palace. A Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place here, every day, at noon. Lima’s City Hall sits on the western side of the square.
Exit the square at the northwestern corner and walk north on Jiron de la Union, which leads to the Rimac River. The bridge that you see was constructed in the 17th century, in the Roman style. It is called Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge). Instead of crossing the bridge, backtrack on Jiron de la Union, and then turn left on Ancash, which runs by the Train Station and, onward, to the Plaza de San Francisco. Here you will find the St Francis Convent. The beautiful church interior and its extremely interesting catacombs can only be viewed as part of a guided tour, but it is worth the time. The walls of the church are covered with intricate, glazed tiles from Seville, Spain, and the mudejar (Moorish style) ceilings are noteworthy.
From the square, walk south on Lampa, and then turn left on Ucayal. On your left is, perhaps, the most spectacular of Lima’s Colonial palaces, the Palacio Torre Tagle (unfortunately, it cannot be visited). Across the street is another mansion, the Casa Goyeneche.
At the next intersection, turn right on Azargaro, to visit Iglesia de San Pedro. Its striking interior is worthy of exploration. Now continue south on Azangaro and then turn right onto Nicholas de Piecola, which leads to the other great square of the city center, Plaza de San Martin. Wander around the gardens and also check out the monument to the square’s namesake and liberator of South America, Jose de San Martin.
Exit the plaza and walk north on Jiron de la Union to see Iglesia de la Merced, another of Lima’s interesting, Baroque, Colonial churches. Now turn left on Huancavelica, and then right on Jiron Camana. Ahead, on your right, is the Casa Riva-Aguero, another 18th century mansion, and, on the left, Iglesia de San Augustin. This church’s claim-to-fame is its magnificent Churrigueresque façade.
Next, continue north on Camana to see Casa Osambela, Lima’s tallest house. It is actually located on Conde de Superunda. After your visit, retrace your steps on Camana to Junin and turn left, This street will bring you back to the Plaza de Armas, where your walking tour originated.