Lima Landmarks and Monuments
Known for its extensive history and past Andean cultures including the Chavin, the Incas and the Moche, Lima is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and brimming with glorious landmarks and ancient monuments. The city's famous Basilica Cathedral is one of the most important landmarks standing today and it dominates the Plaza Mayor in the heart of downtown Lima.
Other major landmarks and religious monuments within Lima include a wealth of churches, such as both the Iglesia de La Merced and La Iglesia de San Francisco. However, for many, it is awesome palaces that capture the imagination, with the Palacio Arzobispal, the Palacio de Gobierno and the Palacio de Justicia being just some of the grandest.
La Catedral de Lima (Basilica Cathedral)
Address: Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor), Jiron Carabaya, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 427 9647
In 1555, the very first cathedral of Lima was built and stood on the south-easterly side of the Plaza de Armas. However, just a decade later it was considered to be too small for its purpose, and so the cathedral of today was built soon after, being consecrated in 1625, before it was actually completed. Earthquake damage has paid its toll over the years, particularly in 1687 and again in 1746, although careful reconstruction work has restored with magnificent building and its twin bell towers, using historic plans. The remains of Francisco Pizarro are located within the chapel on the right-hand side of the entrance. In total, La Catedral de Lima comprises 15 chapels, ornate Italian marble flooring, enormous chandeliers and a Museum of Religious Art, housed within the sacristy.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 16:30, Saturday - 10:00 to 16:30
Admission: charge, discounts for children - includes guided tour
Cerro San Cristobal
Address: Close to the Rimac River, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 315 1300
One of Lima's most recognisable landmarks, the Cerro San Cristobal is a huge cross and popular observation point, standing atop a hill and being seen for miles. Overlooking the Rimac River, the hill itself is more than 400 metres / 1,310 feet in height and those who make the effort to reach the elevated Cerro San Cristobal will be greeted with breathtaking views, which are almost endless and worth capturing on camera. Both a museum and restaurant are conveniently situated close by. Minibuses to the Cerro San Cristobal are readily available from the Plaza del Gobierno.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free, charge for entrance to the museum
Address: Nicolas de Rivera 201, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 222 4124
The ancient pre-Inca Huaca Huallamarca temple was created in the 4th century and is sited within the San Isidro area of Lima. This magnificent pyramid structure has been completely restored, but looks rather out of place against its backdrop of modern-day apartment blocks, being made from traditional mud 'adobe' bricks. A steep ramp extends on one side and leads to the very top. Careful excavations have revealed buried mummies, relics and other treasures, which are displayed within the onsite museum. The Huaca Huallamarca is worth exploring and a number of local events and concerts are often staged here.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 09:00 to 17:00
Address: Calle General Borgono, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 445 8695
Huaca Pullana is an important archaeological site in Lima and is thought to date as far back as the year 200 AD. Built with thousands of handmade bricks, the Huaca Pullana is an awe-inspiring site and is split into two main areas, which were used for administrative and ceremonial purposes respectively. Although many will look at this as nothing more than a pile of bricks, the history behind them is fascinating, and the setting is also very impressive, with panoramic views of the city below.
Open hours: Wednesday to Monday - 09:00 to 17:00
Iglesia de La Merced
Address: Jiron de la Union 621, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 427 8199
Standing near to the Plaza de Armas and considered by many to be nothing short of an architectural masterpiece, the Iglesia de La Merced has led a very long existence. This mother of all churches was first built almost 500 years ago and it was in this very landmark where the city of Lima first held mass. As the centuries have passed, the Iglesia de La Merced has suffered all kinds of damage, caused by fire, earthquakes and weather, and has needed to be rebuilt and restored a number of times. As you look at the church from the outside, you are able to spot the different periods of renovation work, which both stand out, and yet manage to successfully gel with the oldest parts of the church.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 12:00, 17:00 to 20:00
La Iglesia de San Francisco (Convento de San Francisco / Saint Francis Monastery) / San Francisco Catacombs
Address: Jiron Ancash, Plaza San Francisco, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 426 7377
The Convento de San Francisco is a glorious colonial monastery, with highly detailed architecture and a yellow facade. Completed in the latter part of the 17th century, this landmark is amongst South America's oldest of its kind and its architecture is very flamboyant and typical of Spanish Neo-classicism from that period. Visitors are able to explore the labyrinth of catacombs beneath, which contain literally hundreds of bones and skulls, which are all jumbled up and centuries old.
Open hours: daily - 07:00 to 11:00, 16:00 to 20:00
Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop's Palace)
Address: Costado de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor), Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 444 3027
The Palacio Arzobispal is typically colonial in its style and stands alongside both the cathedral and the Iglesia del Sagrario, on the Plaza de Armas. Used as both the residence for the city's Archbishop and also as the headquarters for the actual Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the Palacio Arzobispal was completed in 1924, although its appearance is that of a much older landmark. Unfortunately it is only the baroque facade that you will be able to see, since the Archbishop's Palace is not open to the public. It is unlikely that you will be able to explore the inside, with its marble staircases and giant French stained-glass windows.
Open hours: daily - view from exterior only
Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace / House of Pizarro)
Address: Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor), Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 444 3027
Once the residence of the founder of Lima city, Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez (1471 to 1541), the Palacio de Gobierno dominates the north-eastern side of the Plaza de Armas. The Government Palace is an especially historical landmark and has been updated and rebuilt a number of times over the years, particularly after a serious fire in 1921. Serving as the official residence of Peru's president and now dating mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, the Palacio de Gobierno of today features many unexpected French-Baroque features, added by former dictators. Inside are some spectacular rooms, such as the Golden Hall, the Jorge Basadre Room, the Pizarro Room, the Admiral Miguel Grau Room and those within the Presidential Residence.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 13:00, 14:00 to 16:30
Admission: free guided tours - arrange in advance at the Office of Public Relations
Palacio de Justicia (Palace of Justice)
Address: Avenida Paseo de la República, Lima, Peru, PE
The Palacio de Justicia really does look just how a palace should, being inspired by its namesake Palace de Justice located in Brussels
. This is an immediately imposing and impressive Neo-classical building, with a huge entrance, topped with Peru's flag. Building work commenced at the end of the 1920s and was inaugurated in 1938 by Peru's president Oscar Benavides Raimundo Larrea (1876 to 1945), after a number of revisions to the plan, including the omission of both a dome and tower. Not all of Lima's courts are based in this building today, with the Palacio de Justicia currently being home to the Supreme Court and also the Criminal Division of the Superior Court.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:00 to 16:00
Palacio de Torre Tagle
Address: Jiron Ucayali 363, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 311 2400
This very distinctive palace dates back to the early part of the 18th century and is hard to miss, being a rather eye-catching shade of pink. Two enormous balconies jut out from the first floor and are exquisitely fashioned in dark wood, adding a colonial appearance. Locals in Lima consider this colourful landmark to be one of the city's most beautiful mansions, although to tourists it may appear a little 'overdone' at first glance, with features such as columns, arches and plaster work all crammed in where possible. The Palacio de Torre Tagle currently houses the city's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Open hours: daily - appointments only
Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace / City Hall)
Address: Jiron de la Union, Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor), Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 574 8000
The Palacio Municipal is one of the many imposing landmarks surrounding the central Plaza de Armas and serves as the city hall. Built as recently as the early 1940s, the Palacio Municipal appears much older, with a line of arches stretching the entire length of the building. The facade is yellow in colour and features white details and ornamentation. If you are able to explore the interior, you will discover a grand marble staircase and an undeniable flavour of French Renaissance.
Open hours: daily - hours vary
Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs)
Address: Bajada a Los Banos / Calle Ayacucho, Lima, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 01 315 1300
Very much a romantic spot and known for its history of lovers, who have used this historic bridge as a point of crossing for many years, the beautiful Puente de los Suspiros dates back to the latter part of the 19th century. The Puente de los Suspiros connects both the Calle Ayacucho and the La Ermita, and spans the Lima River. This landmark has become one of the true highlights within the coastal district of Barranco and those crossing the bridge nowadays will be able to reach the beachfront in a matter of minutes.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours