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La Plaza de Armas in Lima

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The History of la Plaza de Armas in Lima, written by a Liman

Translated by Kate Norman — one year ago

Original text by Jesus en su tinta

Hello everyone!

Today I want to give you a couple of guidelines and facts about the main plaza in the centre of Lima known as the Plaza Mayor, or the Plaza de Armas.

The first image I have to show you of the Plaza de Armas is of when one of my aunties took me to eat grilled chicken in the Jirón de la Unión, a pedestrianised street near the plaza. What I remember the most is something that is no longer there, do you know what I'm talking about?

I mean the statue of Fransisco Pizarro, which used to be in a corner of the plaza, and now is in the Park de la Muralla (click here to see my article about the park). Now, where the statue used to be, there is a plaza known as the Plaza de la Bandera and obviously, there is a red and white flag there, the colours of my beautiful Peru.

In this photo I took a while ago, you can see the fountain and the Government Palace of Peru.


I want to tell you a bit about what you can find in the Plaza de Armas as it is almost an icon of Lima and the majority of Liman people, like me, have visited it more than once. In my case, when I was a tour guide it was one of the places that I loved to take my friends to the most, as well as the San Francisco Convent, due to the fact that, in my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful plazas in this part of the world.

Let's start with a bit of history...



La Plaza de Armas also has other names such as the Plaza Mayor de Lima, but most Liman people nowadays just call it the Plaza de Armas. My city was founded here on the 18th January 1535 by the Spanish man Francisco Pizarro and it has become one of the most important cities on this continent over the last few centuries. The entire city was known as Pizarro's "damero", his "checkerboard".



There is something I would like to emphasise and that is that Francisco Pizarro founded Lima as a Spanish city, but long before his legacy started there was a civillisation throughout this valley and they had a leader. Do you know who I'm talking about?

I mean Taulichusco, considered by history as the last "cacique", "chief", of Lima and in the honour of this chief, when you go to the plaza you will see two very well-known passages. One of them is the passage of Santa Rosa where you will find an immense rock (I don't know how much it weighs! ) in honour of Taulichusco, here is a picture of the rock:



Lima was growing around this plaza and during the Colonial years, the powerful people and different religious orders established themselves around the Plaza de Armas. Little by little the city grew until it became what it is today: a city with more than 9 million inhabitants.



What can we find around the Plaza de Armas?

In the plaza you can see the following buildings and attractions:

  • The Government Palace, also known as the Pizarro House
  • The Municipal Palace where the Pancho Fierro Gallery is located
  • The Union Club
  • The Cathedral of Lima and its chapel: to read my article about the cathedral click here.
  • The Archbishop Palace
  • The Judge House and the balconies
  • The Fountain of Lima
  • The Passage of Santa Rosa where Taulichusco's rock is located
  • The Passage of Olaya where the José Olaya Monument is located

Which is the oldest thing in the Plaza de Lima?

Who wants to bet?

It may come as a surprise to some, but the oldest building in the Plaza de Armas is actually the Casa del Oidor, theJudge House. It is a building with green balconies that you can find on the right hand side of the Government Palace just on the corner. Then follows the cathedral, but this has been remodeled a lot thanks to the constant earthquakes that have happened over the years.

All the others that I mentioned are from the 19th century, and others like the Archbishop Palace with its neo-classical style seems like it should be from the Colonial period, but it is not.

There is another thing that is old, and that is the fountain that is right in the middle of the plaza. This dates back to the 18th century, it is a bronze fountain and the higher part is made up of an angel playing the trumpet and it is known as the Angel of Fame

Let's discover more...

The best thing you can do to appreciate the plaza is stand in the middle of it and start with the fountain, you can take advantage and take a photo with it and look at all the elaborate detail that it was made with. If you go at nighttime, you will see the whole plaza illuminated and it is worth it to go then as well as during the day so that you can see the beautiful architecture of the place.

The House of Pizarro


The Government Palace, as I have already mentioned, is also known as the House of Pizarro. It is said that it was the same Francisco Pizarro that decided to make the construction plans. After his death (he was assassinated inside the Cathedral of Lima), the house was occupied by the Viceroys of Peru as the Viceroy was representative of the King during Colonial times. After Peruvian Independence, the house started to be occupied by the Presidents of Peru. In the middle part of the Government Palace you can see the National emblem of Peru.

A bit of advice I'm going to give you is that if you come here during midday, you can enjoy the changing of the guard where the Regiment of the Húsares de Junín can be seen wearing their uniforms (uniforms used in the battle of Independence) and you can listen to musci from their live orchestra, usually led by some Northern sailor - I totally reccommend it!

Yellow, yellow, yellow buildings...

I am talking about the Municipality of Lima, this building with its immense balconies to the left of the Government Palace. There you can see inside the Municipality there is an art gallery called Pancho Fierro which always has a different exhibition - I encourage you to go and see it as it is free as well!


The Cathedral of Lima and its many reconstructions

As I have said before, the Cathedral of Lima has been reconstructed many times. One of the most catastrophic earthquakes that my city has had was in 1746 when there was also a tsunami that flooded the main port into Peru - Callao (I will tell you about Callao in another post). Inside the cathedral you can enter into its museum and here you can find the remains of Francisco Pizarro. If you want to know more about his history, and the history of the cathedral then I encourage you to go and visit.

Here is a photo that my friend Karen took of the cathedral:


A Fisherman's Monument, lern more about his history...



Many Peruvians were in favour of Independence, and José Olaya was one of those people. He was a fisherman from Chorrillos who was captured by a Spanish troop and was cruelly assassinated in front of the Government Palace. In the honour of this hero, the passage where he was killed has a sculpture of him.

This simple man swam by the Peruvian coast in order to pass along secret information to the pro-independence party on the day he was captured. He is a person that is known by the majority of Peruvians and we learn about him in school. When you go to the plaza you can take advantage and take a photo of his monument. I am proud of this Peruvian man. He demonstrates love for his country and he was a common citizen.

As you can see, the Plaza de Armas has a lot of history, here many important events have occurred and will continue to occur as it is part of history. I encourage you to get to know the plaza and the whole of Lima and breathe in its history.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, make sure you get to know this tourist location in my beautiful city.

Until next time!

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