The Plaza de Armas in Lima is one of the oldest places in all of America, being the founding plaza of the city and the nucleus of urban life. It is a mandatory tourist spot for those who wish to visit the city since we are talking about one of the most significant spots there, surrounded by historical buildings and of great importance. Those who go on a guided tour of the city, know that the Plaza Mayor is usually a great start within the historic center. It is located just steps from the most important points of the city, making it an ideal place to discover this magical city’s historical and cultural side. That is why together with Machu Travel Peru we want to explain a little about the buildings that surround the Plaza de Armas of Lima.
Everything you need to know about the Plaza de Armas in Lima
- About the Plaza de Armas
- The story behind the Plaza
- What to do in the Plaza de Armas?
- What to see in the Plaza de Armas of Lima?
- How to get to the Plaza?
ABOUT THE PLAZA DE ARMAS
If you are planning a trip to Peru, you cannot miss one of the most iconic and historical places in the Andean country. It is one of the most outstanding and unmissable sites on a tour of the City of Kings. The first foundation stone of the Plaza was laid on January 18, 1535. Thus founding the colonial city of Lima, also known as the ancient capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. After its foundation, Lima was taking a leading role within all of South America, is one of the oldest cities on the continent. Today the Plaza de Armas in Lima is one of the most recognized places by Lima and the place of choice to appreciate the best architecture available within Peru.
This square also bears the name of Plaza Mayor and has about 140 square meters. Not only was it the heart of the 16th-century establishment, but it was also the center of the Spanish conquest. Today, the foundational square is the modern nucleus of urban life. It is even usually a must-visit tourist center for those looking to explore the city. It is enclosed by historical buildings belonging to the colonial and republican periods. In the central part of the Plaza de Armas of Lima, you can see a beautiful colonial fountain dating from the seventeenth century. This bronze fountain was erected in 1650. And is one of the only original objects left from the founding of the city. The square is located at the northern end of the historic center of the city. Any taxi driver will know how to get there.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PLAZA
With the arrival of Francisco Pizarro to the Rímac Valley, he founded the city of Lima. And the conqueror Francisco founded the city following the corresponding ordinances for the founding of cities in the New World. So it can be assumed that the wonderful capital of Peru had its beginning in the Plaza de Armas in Lima. Since the ordinances mention that a layout of the future city has to be made starting from the main square. The day of the foundation was the day that Francisco delegated the political, domestic, and religious functions of the spaces around the Plaza. These to this day are still maintained.
After the foundation in 1535, some of the most important buildings were built around the Plaza de Armas. Many of those buildings are still standing today. Such as the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, the City Hall Palace, the Municipality of Lima, and other private buildings. Keep in mind that many buildings do not have the original facades. Since these were remodeled over time. Especially with the destruction caused by the earthquakes of the past. Although other buildings still belong to the republican period, that is to say after 1821. The square was an administrative center of great importance. Throughout the history of Peru, it had a leading role. During the viceroyalty, the square functioned as one of the main open-air markets in Lima. Although there is also evidence that it functioned as the place of execution of the political and religious convicts. It even functioned as a bullring.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PLAZA DE ARMAS?
Fortunately, the Plaza de Armas in Lima is a free space. It is freely accessible and available 24 hours a day. You can go on your own or on a city tour. Although if you go on your own, you will find numerous groups waiting to begin their tour of the city. It is the starting point of the different free and group tours. You will also find that bus tours usually depart from the south side of the Plaza de Armas. If you want to take part in these tours, you can look for the red-colored buses. Some even go to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal. This viewpoint has a panoramic view of the entire city of Lima.
You can also visit the different buildings around. La Casa de Aliaga is one of the sites worth visiting. This colonial-style house was preserved for hundreds of years. It is the oldest house in all of the Americas. Another good idea would be to visit the museums near the Plaza. The Catacombs of San Francisco, the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, the Museum of the Inquisition, and the Santo Domingo Convent are good ideas. Depending on the time you travel, you will find public events in the plaza to other fairs of interest. Besides, you can enjoy day trips from Lima. These usually have their starting point around the square. This is where most of the buses that go to the outskirts of the city are located.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE PLAZA DE ARMAS IN LIMA?
The Government Palace is one of the most spectacular buildings that surround the Plaza de Armas in Lima and it is also one of the most guarded. Soldiers in full uniform stand guard in front of the building, which is far behind the Iron Gates that protect it. Francisco Pizarro used to live inside, and he even lost his life in one of the first Coup D’etats in Peru. Today, it is the home and house of the President of the country. It also serves as a place for numerous meetings and other government functions. Unfortunately, this building is not open to the public. But it is usually included as a visit in a Peru itinerary.
It is one of the most fascinating buildings around the Plaza de Armas in Lima. The Government Palace was the first palace built in the entire country. Pizarro began construction of the site in 1535. We highly recommend going to visit the Government Palace at noon. During this time you can see the traditional changing of the guard. During the changing of the guard, you will be able to appreciate traditional music and the costumes of the Húsares de Junín.
Adjacent to the Government Palace, you can find the Casa Aliaga. Being able to appreciate this building is one of the best things to do in Lima. It is contemplated as the oldest house in all of the Americas. The Aliaga family was granted a parcel of land when the Spaniards founded Lima in 1535. They built this beautiful mansion that still stands to this day. It has undergone numerous renovations due to the damage that old earthquakes have caused, but it is still a great example of colonial architecture. It is located very close to the Plaza de Armas in Lima, making it a great attraction if you are nearby.
The building is believed to have been built on top of a Huaca. It belonged to Jerónimo de Aliaga y Ramirez. This house was destroyed in the 1746 earthquake along with other important buildings. But it was later rebuilt by Juan José Aliaga y Sotomayor. Its original construction was made on a base of Adobe and Quincha. It has an eclectic architectural style due to the numerous reforms it has had since its construction. Renaissance, Baroque, Mannerist and Neoclassical styles can be appreciated. The home also has period furniture.
The Plaza de Armas of Lima is home to the Municipal Palace. The City Hall is a public building that serves as the headquarters of the government body known as the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima. The Municipal Palace is usually home to the most important politicians in Peru as well as the President. Big decisions are being made inside while you tour and take photos of the facades of the building. If you are on a tour in Lima, it is most likely that you can panoramically visit the place.
The building has the original Lima Charter signed by Francisco Pizarro. It is also home to the Declaration of National Independence. Like the Government Palace, the building is not open to the public. This building occupies one of the sides of the Plaza de Armas in Lima. It is located right in front of the Cathedral and next to the Government Palace. This majestic construction has neo-colonial architectural styles. And it is adorned by some quite picturesque and large viceregal balconies.
If you recognize a neo-colonial building with a carved wooden balcony, then you are looking at the Archbishop’s Palace. The palace is of the archdiocese of Lima and is located near the Plaza de Armas in Lima. Its facade and architecture seem to go back to the origins of the city. But in reality, it is a building built not long ago. This palace was built right in the urban center of Lima in 1924. And today it serves as the home to the Archbishop of Lima. Besides, its functions as a museum, so you can enjoy a tour of its beautiful interiors. After a historical tour of the city, you will also find numerous other activities in the Peruvian capital, such as enjoying paragliding in Lima or other water sports.
Anyone exploring the Plaza Mayor cannot help but be drawn to this majestic building. If its wonderful facade captivates you, then you cannot stop exploring its interiors. The first floor is an available museum that exhibits a wonderful collection of colonial religious art. The second level consists of a tour of the various spaces that make up the archiepiscopal house.
After touring the archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana Lima, you can start to see the buildings of great historical importance in the center of Lima. The Cathedral of Lima is usually one of the main buildings to visit on a guided tour of the City. This impressive building was built to convey the power of the Church in the lives of the settlers of the past. Inside, you can enjoy the cathedral museum that exhibits one of the best collections of religious art in the capital. Even Francisco Pizarro’s tomb is located inside the cathedral, therefore it is an unmissable visit within the magical city of Lima.
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is the largest of the churches, as well as the most important in the country. It is part of the cultural heritage of humanity that Peru holds. And its busy influx of visitors is largely due to the site’s fascinating architectural style. It is a must for those who visit the city. Inside you will be able to appreciate a great variety of works of art. Among which you can find altarpieces made in the 17th and 19th centuries. You can also experience a crypt where the archbishops of the city were buried.
HOW TO GET TO THE PLAZA
Getting to the Plaza de Armas of Lima is relatively easy. It is one of the central points of the city and one of the principal tourist sites. If you consult any of the locals, you will have an idea of how to get there. But if you are in Miraflores or Barranco you can take the Metropolitano or the Metro-Bus. It is advisable to take line C from Ricardo Palma or Boulevard station. You have to get off at the Jirón de la Unión station. From there you only have to walk a few minutes until you reach the Plaza de Armas of Lima. You can easily get there by taxi from other districts, although other public buses also take you to the Plaza Mayor.
The truth is that there is no best time to visit Lima. But if you are looking to appreciate the capital in its greatest splendor, summer can be a good time. It is when Ceviche restaurants are most delicious, the beaches are most enjoyed, and the weather is most pleasant. In general, those who arrive at the Lima airport tend to bypass this city. Tourists arrive in passing to go directly to Cusco and visit Machu Picchu. But there is a lot to enjoy and know within the Peruvian capital, so we recommend enjoying a few days.
“IT IS NOT THE DESTINATION WHERE YOU END UP BUT THE MISHAPS AND MEMORIES YOU CREATE ALONG THE WAY”
To conclude, we can mention the great historical importance of the Plaza Mayor within the Peruvian capital. We hope we have informed you a little more about the iconic Plaza de Armas in Lima. This urban center is an essential place to visit during your visit to Lima. You will be able to get an idea of how busy the historic center is and the daily life of the locals. Get to know a part of our beautiful culture in the Andean country. Together with the travel experts from Machu Travel Peru, we agree that it is one of the most important places on a guided tour, to get to know a little about the historical side of the city. If you wish to consult our tours of the city, you can consult free of charge with our qualified advisers.