Church of Santo Domingo in Lima
The church of Santo Domingo in Lima has a history of more than 500 years. It stands out because the first university in Peru began to function there: the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. Also because there lie the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martín de Porres, two of the most venerated sanctified figures in the city. Both the exterior and interior of the temple have architectural relics and colonial art treasures worthy of admiration.
All about the church of Santo Domingo in Lima
The church and basilica of Santo Domingo
This church is also called the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, its main dedication. It is one of the oldest and main colonial Christian temples that adorn the city of Lima.
The space it would occupy was decided at the very foundation of Lima, by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. The construction took place throughout the 16th century under the orders of Viceroy Manuel de Amat y Juniet. However, due to strong earthquakes (especially the one that occurred in 1940), its structure had to be modified over several centuries.
Thus, the church has an architecture that combines the Rococo and Mudejar styles. In the rooms of the convent the first lessons of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos were held in 1551. The convent was divided into: a chapter house, a visiting room, a main cloister, a library, a second cloister, the chapel of San Martín de Porres and the tomb where the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima lie.
The church’s greatest tourist attraction are the tombs where the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martín de Porres lie, two of the most revered figures of Christianity in Lima and Peru.
Inside the church there are colonial treasures such as the choir made of cedar wood. It is considered the oldest in Peru. Likewise, its main nave adorned with altarpieces, reliquaries, sculptures and an altar stands out. The most important is the altar of the Peruvian saints where the remains of Santa Rosa and San Martín lie.
In 1892 the Dominican order inaugurated the Santo Tomás de Aquino school, which continues to function today.
The church is located in the historic center of the city of Lima. The exact address is: jirón Camaná 170 with jirón Conde de Superunda 262, Cercado de Lima.
The church is just a 300-meter walk from Lima’s Main Square.
How to get there?
To get to the church of Santo Domingo you must take into account the following:
- From anywhere in the city you can get there traveling by public transport (along Abancay avenue or Evitamiento avenue) to the historic Main Square de Lima. From there you just have to walk to get to the church (by the Conde de Superunda shred).
- From the district of Miraflores you can reach the center of Lima using the Metropolitano line or the ‘Blue Line’ of public transport buses.
Map of the route
History of the Dominicans in Lima
During the founding of the city of Lima in 1535, Francisco Pizarro awarded the lots where the Santo Domingo temple would be built.
The first stage of construction took fifty years, until the end of the 16th century. However, the 1678 earthquake totally destroyed the temple. However, the 1687 earthquake again destroyed part of the building.
By then a huge tower, a main portal and various cloisters for the convent were built. Another earthquake in 1746 forced the reinforcement of structures, especially the tower. These works were the most important. The order came from the then viceroy Manuel de Amat y Juniet.
Successive earthquakes did not damage the structures of the church and convent as in previous years and centuries.
Some of the most important events in the history of this temple occurred in 1892 with the creation of the Santo Tomás de Aquino school. However, the history of the Dominican order with Peruvian education dates back to 1551 when the first classes at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, the oldest in America, were held in its cloisters.
Saint Martin de Porres (1579 – 1639) was educated in its cloisters, canonized in 1962 and whose remains rest on the main altar. In this place are also the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima (1586 – 1617) canonized in 1671 and who belonged to the Dominican tertiary order.
Today it is one of the most visited religious temples in Lima. Most of the visitors are devotees of Santa Rosa and San Martín.
The exterior of the church
The church has an architecture that combines the Rococo and Mudejar styles. Its tall tower with a bell tower stands out, at the base of which the original cushion decoration can still be seen. This tower has an octagonal base. It has a lower body and two high ones with balconies on corbels. It reaches a height of 46 meters.
The treasures inside
Inside the church there are treasures such as:
The choir – It has a stalls worked in cedar brought from Nicaragua. It has a baroque decoration with mannerist figures of saints and biblical characters. It is the oldest ashlar in Peru. In its two levels there are figures of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San Francisco de Asís and more. The work was made by various artists in which Juan Martínez de Arona stands out.
The altar of the saints – The church has three naves. The sides have beautiful altarpieces. However, in the main nave the altar of the saints stands out. In the right transept stands this altar with figures of Santa Rosa de Lima, San Martín de Porres and San Juan Macías. Below the first two figures are the reliquaries with the remains of Santa Rosa and San Martín. The entire structure has a neoclassical style full of ornaments, especially the altarpieces.
How to visit the church? What is the hour of attention?
The tour of the church and the cloisters of the Santo Domingo church in Lima have the following prices:
- General adult: 7 Peruvian soles.
- University students: 3.5 Peruvian soles.
- Schoolchildren: 1 Peruvian sol.
The opening hours are from Monday to Sunday from 8.30 in the morning to 5.30 in the afternoon.
Photos of the church of Santo Domingo
If you like religious temples, you can take advantage of your visit to Lima to know the mysterious catacombs in the church of San Francisco .
On the upper walls of the first cloister, paintings from the ‘Cusco school’ of painting stand out. The convent also features 16th century tiles, sculptures, pieces of wood carved in the 17th century as well as the main coffered ceiling.
The Chapter or General room is also one of the most visited sites in the temple. The reason? There the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos was inaugurated on January 2, 1553. There is still a platform where the theses or chairs of the first careers were sustained: theology and arts.