Walking Downtown Lima and Catacombs

The Selena Miraflores hostel offered a walking tour to the historic center of Lima listed in UNESCO World Heritage with it’s most important monuments. Admiring the architectural styles and colonial balconies we learn about the most important streets in Peru. Hopping from plaza to plaza we also learn where bars were used to lead the revolution on the society and the declaration of independence of Peru from Spain in 1821.

This tour cost $15 USD and started at a decent hour of 10:30 am to about 2pm. We had a group of 8 people and our guide is Luis, the same guide we had for the bike tour. Our journey begins by taking the local bus system at Benavides station to Central station.

Miguel Grau Plaza

Exiting the station towards Miguel Grau Square we start our walking tour down the central island of Paseo de Los Heroes Navales. We see the Palacio de Justica the Supreme court of Peru with it’s neoclassical architecture opened in 1938. At the end of the street island is the Museo Roosevelt.

Supreme Court of Justice
Paseo de Los Heroes Navales
Roosevelt Museum (the Rimac Building)

This building is called Roosevelt due to the name of the street it fronts. The design was by a Polish architect in early 1900’s. It was apartments, but now currently under the administration of the insurance company Rímac Seguros.

Jiron de la Unión street

Strolling down Jiron de la Unión we stop at the corner by Plaza San Martin at Club Nacional. There’s a barrier erected around it to avoid any civil unrest. Our walk continues through Plaza San Martin Square. Plaza San Martín, an UNESCO World Heritage Site named in honor of Peru’s liberator, Don José de San Martín.

Iglesia de la Merced
Inside Iglesia de la Merced

On our way to Plaza de Armas we stop at Iglesia de la Merced with baroque Lima style. The central part was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1746. The columns on each side remained the same made of granite from panama.

Building across from Iglesia de la Merced
A McDonald’s

Standing in front of Iglesia de la Merced I was noticing the mixture of different acrhitectural styles downtown. When looked at this building I thought it had a bit of Art Deco styling. Then I noticed it was a McDonald’s.  It’s nice of some cities to blend the modern fast food restaurants into the surroundings.

Pasaje Jorge Olaya
Cathedral of Lima and Archbishops Palace on the left
Government Palace of Peru with changing of the guards

At Plaza de Armas, there are three buildings that represent the three powers that ruled the country. The Government Palace (Palacio del Gobierno) for the executive power. This is where we witness the changing of the guards. The other buildings of power are the Cathedral of Lima for the church and the Municipal Palace for the local government. This square is where Lima was founded on January 18, 1535 by conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

Restaurant Cordano on Carabaya Street

Sitting across from the Government Palace this restaurant has been an institution since 1905. It’s been said that almost every Peruvian president for the last 100 years has dined here. Also rumored that important decisions were made over some drinks.

View from Puenta de Pierdra bridge

Our next stop is an open view over the Rimac river on the Puenta de Pierdra bridge. We spend a few minutes here taking pictures before heading over to the Convent of San Francisco.

Convent of San Fransisco

The highlight of the tour is a visit to the Convent of San Francisco built in 1535 and the catacombs underneath. The land for the Convent was given to the Franciscan Order by Pizarro. There’s a mix of Spanish and Moorish baroque styling most evident in the ceilings and tiles.
When we go up the stairs we stop to admire a large intricate wood dome of moorish style.

Large wood dome inside the convent

We see an impressive library of with thousands of rare old leather bound books on theology, philosophy, history and literature.

As we walk the courtyard you can see metal grates within the stone tiles. When you peer down you see bones and skulls. These are the catacombs of Franciscan Monks.

Into the catacombs
Artistic and eerie arrangement of bones

Taking the narrow stairs down to the catacombs there are bones sorted by type, the majority I saw were femurs. There are points where the bones are arranged in an “artistic” way.

Pisco Sour tasting

Our final stopped for some Pisco Sour tasting. We tried 4 different flavorings of Pisco Sours. My favorite being the classic followed by the passion fruit version.

Another bus journey to get back to our hostel. This time we hop on the bus at Jiron la Union station and exit back at our starting point Benavides station. From there it’s a short walk to Selina Miraflores hostel.

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