As might be expected from a city that was founded by the Spanish on the precepts of the Catholic religion, Lima has an abundance of churches, cathedrals and monasteries that date back as far as the early 16th century. For tourists interested in the architecture and styles of early South America, Lima’s churches and temples are a must see. Here’s a look at just a few of the most popular sites.
The Cathedral – Located in the Plaza Mayor in the historical downtown city center. The Cathedral was completed in 1622 after over 40 years of construction. In 1746, it was severely damaged by an earthquake, and was rebuilt by Jesuit Juan Rehr. The building itself is a mix of Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic and Neoclassic styles. The remains of Lima founder Francisco Pizarro are found inside the Cathedral, as well as a museum of religious art. Open daily from 10am-1pm and 2-5pm.
The San Franciscan Monastery – Just down the street and around the corner from the Plaza Mayor, you’ll find the church and monastery of San Francisco (or Saint Francis). The church is a mix of Baroque, Mannerists and Moorish styles, with a definite affinity for the geometric tile work of the Andalusian Moorish style. The inner cloisters houses a lovely garden, with a surrounding passageway lined with murals representing the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The church houses a library that holds over 25,000 tomes and parchments, dated from the 15th to 18th centuries. One room in the monastery features a painting of the last supper of Christ where, in true Peruvian style, the main dish being served is roast guinea pig. But the monastery is perhaps best known for the ossuary housed in the catacombs beneath it, holding the earthly remains of thousands of early Lima inhabitants. Tours are available in English and Spanish. Open daily from 9:30am until 5:45pm.
The Santo Domingo Convent – Is the oldest church and convent found in Lima. The first university in the Americas, the San Marcos University, was first opened here in 1551. The ashes of Santa Rosa de Lima, the patron saint of the city of Lima, are interred here. San Martin de Porras, the patron saint of race relations and social justice, also calls the church his final resting place. The church features some really magnificent artwork, including a 16 century statue of the crucifixion of Christ and a marble statue of Santa Rosa. The convent features a ceiling done in the Moorish style, also from the 16th century, an impressive library and a Baroque salon. Visiting hours are daily from 7am-1pm and 3:30-8:30pm.