The Cathedral of Lima
The Cathedral of Lima is the most important church in Peru because it is located right in the Historic Center of the city, a place with a lot of history. At first glance, it stands out for its beautiful Renaissance-style façade that is illuminated at night thanks to a play of lights. Inside there are various styles that have evolved over the years. Its thirteen chapels, its choir stalls and the crypt where the remains of Francisco Pizarro are stand out. Learn more about the history, prices and tips to visit the Cathedral of Lima.
All about the Cathedral of Lima
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a religious construction located in the heart of the city of Lima. Francisco Pizarro laid the first stone, after the founding of the city in 1535.
The building has a total of five naves: three main ones and two additional ones built later. Is that throughout its history there have been constructions that have mixed different styles, from Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic to Plateresque and Neoclassical.
The Cathedral has a beautiful façade that combines Renaissance and Neoclassical styles. This adjoins two buildings built in colonial times: the Archbishop’s Palace and the Parroquia del Sagrario.
The interior of the Cathedral has a rectangular plan similar to the Cathedral of Seville. The baroque altars were replaced by others in the neoclassical style. Its chapels, its beautiful altar decorated with pieces in gold leaf, its spectacular choir stalls, its sacristy and beautiful canvases stand out.
The Cathedral has a museum where pieces of great historical value are exhibited such as paintings of the Bassano family, the old main sacristy, the Chapter Room (a place of meetings of great importance) as well as works of art donated by private collectors.
The Cathedral is located right in front of the Main Square in Lima, one of the largest and most beautiful in Peru.
His address is Jiron Carabaya (current Jiron Augusto Wiese) s/n.
History of the Cathedral
As was the custom of the Spanish conquerors, the Cathedral was built on an Inca religious site, the temple of ‘Puma Inti’, adjacent to the palace of the Inca prince ‘Sinchi Puma’.
On January 18, 1535, during the founding of the city of Lima, Francisco Pizarro allocated the space for the construction of the Cathedral. The works for this first temple, under the invocation of Our Lady of the Assumption, culminated in 1538.
Later, as the city became more important, the church grew. The modifications were made in 1552, 1604, 1625,1758, 1778 and 1797. In this last year the construction acquired a form very similar to the current one.
Throughout its history the Cathedral was forced to rebuild as a result of different earthquakes, the strongest in 1609, 1687, 1746, 1940, 1966, 1970, 1974 and 2007. The city of Lima has a geography prone to earthquakes, so these events will continue in the future.
Because it belongs to the Historic Center of Lima, since 1991 the Cathedral is considered Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
In 1977 the remains of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro were discovered. In 2004, night lighting works were carried out outside the church (for the so-called ‘La Luz Tourist Circuit’). The restoration and maintenance work does not stop until today. For this reason, the Cathedral of Lima is considered one of the most important tourist attractions in the city.
Its beautiful facade with two tall towers with bell towers stands out. There are three entrance doors on the main facade. There are also two sides and two others at the back of the structure. At the top of the facade you can see sculptures of the twelve apostles and, in the center, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
At night the facade of the Cathedral of Lima shows a very striking play of light. They also have this light show: the Municipal Palace of Lima and the Government Palace of Peru, both located around the Main Square.
The interior of the Cathedral
When entering the Cathedral, the first thing that stands out is its rectangular main hall. At the top there is a ceiling with Gothic ribbed vaults in the manner of a starry sky. Its altars have a neoclassical style.
Inside there is also a magnificent choir stalls with carved figures of historical representatives of the Catholic Church as well as other details. The work was made by the artist Pedro de Noguera in the 17th century.
The main pulpit has a neoclassical style. The image of Saint John the Evangelist and a crucifix of the Paschal Lamb stand out. It was created by the artist Matías Maestro.
Its thirteen chapels with sculptures of different personalities of the church also stand out, including vital religious personalities in the history of Peru.
On the sides of the main nave of the Cathedral there are up to thirteen chapels with sacristies where there are sculptures of remarkable quality, which are:
Chapel of Our Lady of Hope – The first left side aisle shows the beautiful image of the so-called ‘Virgen Dolorosa’. This image is venerated by the ‘Mariano’ group during Holy Week.
Chapel of the Holy Family – The next nave shows carvings in wood alluding to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the upper part there are canvases with images of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The chapel was part of the Lima Carpenters Guild.
Capilla de la Antigua (Los reyes) – This chapel was under the patronage of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, founded in 1551. The main image is a dedication to the Virgen de la Antigua. There are two wooden statues belonging to San Marcos and Santo Tomás de Aquino. San Marcos students used to receive their degrees there.
Chapel of the Peruvian Saints – This chapel shows images of the main saints and virgins in Peruvian history. Highlights Santa Rosa de Lima (first saint of America beatified in 1668), San Martín de Porres, San Juan Macías and San Francisco Solano. In this space is the tomb of Emilio Lissón, Archbishop of Lima who is in the process of beatification.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception – This chapel preserves its original baroque altar from the 16th century. It shows the image of Our Lady of Evangelization, patron of the Archdiocese of Lima. Its walls show beautiful paintings such as that of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (founder of Opus Dei) and the Adoration of the Shepherds, made in the 16th century (one of the oldest works in the Cathedral).
Chapel of the Virgin of Peace – In this space the ‘Blessed Sacrament’ is currently preserved. Its walls show canvases of ‘San Juan Evangelista’ (patron of the Cathedral) as well as the tomb of Sirve de Dios Fray Francisco Camacho.
Chapel of San Juan Bautista – In this chapel paintings allusive to the life of San Juan Bautista are exhibited. An altarpiece with reliefs created by the Sevillian artist Juan Martínez Montañés stands out. This work, one of the most remarkable in the Cathedral, was transferred from the Limpia Concepción church, located in the city of Lima.
Chapel of the Virgen de la Candelaria – In this chapel stands an altarpiece in honor of the Virgen de la Candelaria, a highly revered Marian avocation in the Peruvian Andes. Wing work belongs to the priest Maestro and shows the mixture of baroque and neoclassical styles.
Chapel of Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo – This chapel pays homage to Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo, the second archbishop of Lima. The altar of the saint stands out, decorated with a reliquary. There is also the tomb of Juan Landázuri Ricketts, archbishop of Lima and cardinal.
Chapel of San Juan Evangelista – Formerly this chapel was called Santa Ana. It stands out for its beautiful altarpiece in honor of San Juan Evangelista, a clear example of the transition of the baroque and neoclassical styles. In one of the walls is the tomb with the remains of Nicolás de Ribera the Elder, part of the conquerors of the kingdoms of Nueva Castilla.
Chapel of the Visitation – Also called the ‘Chapel of the Souls’. The canvas of a ‘Christ of the Resurrection’ raised on a litter on Resurrection Sunday stands out.
Chapel of Souls – Its name is due to the fact that it is dedicated to the souls in purgatory. An altarpiece-sepulcher stands out in homage to Fray Diego Morcillo Rubio de Auñón, who was viceroy of Peru (he was also archbishop of La Plata and Lima).
Chapel of San José – This chapel stands out for its altarpiece that portrays the life of Saint Joseph. There are also sculptures representing the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph). The work belongs to the artist Pedro Muñoz de Alvarado.
The Museum of the Cathedral of Lima, also called ‘Museum of Religious Art of the Cathedral of Lima, exhibits some objects of great value, not only economic but also historical. Some works belong to the church itself while others were donated by private collectors. The pre-church stands out (a collection of 12 paintings donated by the Bassano family). Also the old main sacristy, the chapter house (which shows the gallery of canvases with the archbishops).
Perhaps the main tourist attraction of the Cathedral is the crypt of Francisco Pizarro. The discovery of his skeletal remains was only in 1977. In the box where they were found it said: Here is the head of the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro, who discovered and won the kingdoms of Peru and placed in the Royal Crown of Castile . Currently, its crypt is in the first right side aisle. The crypt has a crowded decoration alluding to the conquest of Peru.
Entrance to the Cathedral
The entrance ticket has a cost of 10 Peruvian soles for adults and 2 Peruvian soles for children. The tour guide service is optional (for an extra cost) and can be obtained at the entrance door.
The visit to the Cathedral of Lima during mass hours is free.
The visit with an entrance ticket is from Monday to Friday from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon. Saturdays, from 10 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon.
Mass times are on Sundays at 11 am.
Photos of the Cathedral of Lima
More information about the Cathedral
The Cathedral of Lima is one of the most impressive religious temples in Peru. Other of the most visited are the Cathedral of Cusco and the beautiful Cathedral of Arequipa.
Most City Tours Lima include a visit to the Cathedral. These services can be contracted with any tourism agency in the city (most of them located in the Miraflores district). Services also include a tour of the Main Square, Huaca Pucllana and more.
Take advantage of your visit to the Cathedral of Lima to visit the Main Square located in front. You can also visit the Government Palace of Peru or the Palace of the Municipality of Lima. Another option is to simply walk or ‘jironear’ through the historic streets of the ‘City of Kings’.