Main square of Lima
The Main Square in Lima is one of the most historic places in Peru. There the foundation of the city was carried out by Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535. Today it is the nucleus of the historic center. Every day hundreds of tourists arrive interested in knowing the nearby tourist attractions such as: the Cathedral, the Government Palace, the Municipality of Lima, the Casa del Oidor, the Jirón de la Unión and more. Learn about the history and nearby attractions of the Plaza Mayor de Lima, a place that you must visit during your stay in the capital of the Andean country.
Everything about the Main Square in Lima
Lima was the capital of Peru during the Viceroyalty and it is today. In 1535 the foundation of the city was carried out in the current Main Square of the city. In this regard, the Spanish chronicler and priest Bernabé Cobo stated: “She is the most capable and well-formed that I have seen, not even in Spain. It occupies the entire site of a block, with the width of the four streets that surround it on all four sides, and that is how it has to see because on all four sides it measures more than two thousand feet, it is very flat ”.
The Main Square, also known as the Plaza Mayor of Lima is the historical and tourist center of the ‘City of the Kings’.
It is one of the largest main squares in Peru. It covers an area of 140 square meters. It is surrounded by colonial architectural monuments with a lot of history. In the center stands a bronze basin ordered to be built by Viceroy García de Sarmiento in 1650.
The palm trees and green areas that adorn the square, as well as the historical and tourist atmosphere that are breathed there, make it one of the tourist attractions of Lima that you should visit. There are tours that include a visit to the surrounding historical buildings such as the Cathedral, the Casa del Oidor, the Catacombs (Church of San Francisco), etc.
In the Main Square of Lima, throughout its more than 400 years of history, historical events were carried out such as the founding of the city (1535), the proclamation of the Independence of Peru (1821) and more .
Because it is part of the Historic Center of Lima, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991.
The Main Square de Lima is located in the center of the city, right in front of the Government Palace and the Municipality. It belongs to the Cercado de Lima district. The capital of Peru is located on the Pacific coast of the country, 280 meters above sea level. The streets that converge to the square are: the Junín shred, the Unión shred, the Carabaya shred and the Huallaga shred.
How to get?
Lima is a very large city with almost 9 million inhabitants. Most visitors stay in tourist hotels in the districts of Miraflores or Barranco, located 8.6 kilometers from the Main Square.
Most visitors arrive at the Main Square through a tour that includes transportation service. However, to arrive on your own you can:
- A taxi trip whose cost is negotiable with the taxi driver (price of the trip from 5 to 8 dollars, approximately).
- A trip by public transport (blue corridor), which depart from Miraflores and have a price of 1.50 Peruvian soles (0.5 dollars approximately).
- It is also possible to go by bicycle (along Arequipa and Tacna avenues).
The history of the Main Square de Lima begins in 1535 when Francisco Pizarro founded the ‘Three times crowned’ city of Lima on the orders of King Carlos I of Spain. The Spanish conqueror, according to the symbolism of the time, buried a tree in the center of the square, which symbolized the site of the punishments for those who rebelled against the crown.
Also according to the custom of the time, the spaces for the main buildings and streets of the city were designed. Pizarro, the founder and governor of the city, granted a whole block (4 lots) to the north of the plaza and adjacent to the Rímac River. Later, Viceroy García de Sarmiento ordered the placement of the bronze basin in 1650, which continues to this day.
As the Main Square of the city of Arequipa, Cusco and many other squares in Peru, in viceregal times the square was a market and even a bullring during the main festivities of the city. It was also the scene of numerous historical events such as the autos de fe organized by the Holy Inquisition: the execution by fire of Mateo Salado in 1573, for example. In 1823 the Argentine liberator José de San Martín declared the Independence of Peru in the Main Square of Lima.
In 1855, under the orders of the then president Ramón Castilla, the gardens and public lighting were built, since until then it was a space without pavement or greater care. In the 20th century, the square was modernized, acquiring a shape similar to the current one. The constructions of the Municipal Palace, the Government Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace as well as the Notaries’ balconies were also completed. Currently, the square is the political and tourist nucleus of the city.
Nearby tourist attractions
Lima Cathedral – The main Catholic temple in Lima located right in front of the Main Square. It was built between 1535 and 1649 under a Renaissance and neoclassical style. Inside there are ornaments of gold, silver and works of art with religious motifs. Over the years it has withstood numerous earthquakes so it had to be constantly repaired.
Archbishop’s Palace – In one of the corners of the Main Square of Lima, between the Junín and Carabaya shreds is the Archbishop’s Palace, administrative headquarters of the Archdiocese of Lima and residence of the archbishop of the city. It was built in the viceregal era but redesigned only in 1924 under a neocolonial style, the first of its kind in Peru.
Government Palace – The seat of the executive power, the president of Peru, was built in 1926 under a French-inspired neo-baroque style. Since viceregal times, on the site there were buildings where Francisco Pizarro lived in 1535 (and was assassinated in 1541). There were 40 viceroys, the liberators José de San Martín, Simón Bolívar and the presidents of Peru to date. It is located to the north, in front of the Main Square.
Municipal Palace – The seat of the mayor of the city is also in front of the Main Square. The land was owned by Hernando Pizarro. In 1549 the first construction began. However, the current design was built in 1944 in a neo-colonial (facade) and French Renaissance (interior) style. It has rooms such as ‘Atahualpa Room’, ‘Mirror Room’, ‘Reception Room’, ‘Santa Rosa de Lima Room’ and more.
Casa del Oidor – This viceregal building was the home of Gaspar Melchor de Carbajal, Attorney General for Indians. Its function was to hear the complaints of the original settlers. Because of that, the house was called ‘Casa del oidor’. It stands out for its immense green balcony that crosses the yellow facade. The liberator José de San Martín appeared on this balcony after proclaiming the Independence of Peru in 1821.
Jirón de la Unión – This street was created by Francisco Pizarro after the founding of Lima in 1535. In its 11 blocks they connect the Main Square with the Plaza San Martín . Over several centuries it was the scene of several commercial stalls designed for the Lima aristocracy. From there the Peruvian term of going to ‘jironear’ was coined. However, after the second half of the 20th century, Jirón de la Unión lost its aristocratic character and today it is one of the busiest and commercial pedestrian streets for all Lima residents.
Is it dangerous?
The Main Square in Lima is a safe place. There is 24-hour police surveillance. Tourists can walk there in peace.
However, in the shreds and blocks surrounding this square there may be crime, especially at night.
It is recommended to visit the Main Square in Lima in the morning and in the afternoon. After midnight, it is recommended to take precautions, especially if you will be walking through the surrounding streets.
To better understand the history and importance of the streets and buildings of downtown Lima, it is best to do the visit accompanied by a tour guide. The half-day ‘City tours Lima’ allow you to visit the Main Square as well as the ‘Catacombs’, the Santo Domingo convent and more.
Another way to visit the Center of Lima is through the ‘Mirabus’ rides. Remember that you can also visit the square and the main buildings of Lima for free.
In the Plaza de Armas de Lima you can find spaces for the sale of handicrafts, Lima desserts, photographs, etc. Another of its most famous attractions is to appreciate the ‘Changing of the guard’ in the Government Palace, every day at 11:45 am.