Lima, the capital of Peru, has had an interesting and sometimes violent past. It was founded in 1535 as the main city of Spain’s South American empire, but at least two different earthquakes have leveled the city in the past. Couple this with the massive influx of people starting in the 1940s and it is amazing there is any historic areas around. The population growth came from the people up in the Andes Mountains coming to the city for work. The city went from 600,000 in 1940 to almost 2 million in 1960 to almost 5 million in 1980 and over 11 million today. The city did not have the ability to absorb such a quick growth and shanty towns grew up all over the city as people basically just took land.
But in spite of the influx and eathquakes many older building survive and in 1988, UNESCO declared the historic center of Lima a World Heritage Site for its originality and high concentration of historic monuments constructed in the time of Spanish presence.
A tour of the area needs to start with the Plaza De Armas De Lima, which is a large square sometimes called the birthplace of Lima. On one side of the square is the Government Palace of Peru, their White House, and the next side has the Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace. As beautiful as the cathedral was I much preferred the Church of La Merced, which was built in the baroque style. I also like the Faculty of Medicine of San Fernando with its beautiful building.
There are many, many more buildings I could continue to list, but to really get a sense of this old town it is more important to simply walk the streets and take it all in. From the various plazas to the famous, and beautiful, balconies (of which there are over 1600) from the time of Spanish rule.
With all this said my absolute favorite place in old Lima is the Basílica and Convent of San Francisco. I liked this church so much I want to spend an entire day writing about it and that is what I will do tomorrow so make sure to come back.