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Plaza San Martin


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One of the most beautiful squares in the centre

Translated by Chloe Mckeown — 7 months ago

Original text by Jesus en su tinta

Hello everyone! Today I want to tell you about an iconic place in my city with French influences. It is the beautiful Plaza San Martín located in the centre of Lima.

Plaza San Martin has a white facade and a monument in the centre of it, in honour of General Don Jose San Martin. I think that it is one of the most beautiful squares in Lima, along with the Plaza de Armas. Both are joined by the busy street known as, "jirón de la únión", where you can take a walking tour to explore both national monuments of Peru.

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Around San Martin Square you will find different monuments such as the Gran Hotel Bolivar, the Colon Theatre and a bar that is known as the "Estadio" bar, as well as banks, galleries, offices, etc.

A bit of history:

Plaza San Martin was created near the date of the centenary of Peruvian Independence (which happened in 1821). The square has a lot of history today which has been received over the years. Also by night and day, there is a unique life.

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The San Martín Square was officially opened in 1921 by the then president of Peru: Augusto Leguia, on Peru's centenary. This president wanted to give Lima a new air of modernity and the San Martín Square was one of his main works, with great French influence.

This square is located in the centre of Lima and on one of its pedestrian streets, jirón de la unión. Unlike the Plaza de Armas which has a neocolonial style, the San Martin square has a French style, as well as having the street av. Colmena which also has a French style. (It is a shame that today the street is not valued as a tourist attraction but I hope that in the near future something can be done to value the entire historic centre of Lima).

Llama, flame or the animal:

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When you go to the square, I encourage you to go to the centre of it and you will see the monument of Don Jose de San Martin, not only that but also a woman representing freedom and she is wearing a helmet. If you look carefully you will be able to see something very strange. A little animal from Peru. Can you imagine what is it? There is a llama! There are many versions of why there is a llama on this monument. Perhaps the sculptor was told to put a flame (llama can mean flame or llama the animal in Spanish) and he did a llama instead.

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Hotel Bolivar

The Bolivar hotel is located in San Martin square, if you come from jirón de la unión, on your right you will find the hotel. It is known for its bar where they serve one of the best pisco sours in the city.

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The story goes that this hotel was going to be called Ayacucho (in honour of one of the battles of the Peruvian Independence) but those who proposed this name gave up their plans because Ayacucho translated into Spanish also means "alley or corner of the dead" and that's why it was said, that better than having in front of a Jose de San Martin the Great Bolivar (Bolivar is also a character of the Independence and that's how it got that name).

The best turrón in Lima is here:

Turrón (nougat with almonds or other nuts) from Lima is a delicacy that is eaten every October and around San Martin square on the far side of jirón de la unión you will find a small stand where only the men serve and prepare, according to connoisseurs, the best turrón from Lima.

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I suggest that you go there and if you are in doubt they will let you try a little bit of the delicious turrón from Lima. It was created due to a woman who one night had a dream where she was told the recipe of how to prepare it and so she prepared it in honour of the Señor de Los Milagros. If you go in October, in the centre they will have the dates for the procession at the altar of the church Señor de Los Milagros, which is known as being one of the biggest processions in South America.

Political activity in the afternoons...

If you go during the afternoon, you will usually find some people talking about the latest political events in the country, here people get together to talk, debate and even counter their ideas. Most of them are old people, so if you want to hear a little bit about how the Peruvians think, go ahead, they won't tell you anything but, anyway, always be careful of your stuff!

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The bars around San Martin square

In San Martin square you will find different bars open in the afternoon, if you want to drink beer you can and if you like football (I don't like it hahaha that's why I only went there once) you can visit the bar, called El Estadio and there you can see the decor of different football teams as well as there members.

There are also other bars like Munich where they sell beer and have a piano player.

There is so much to explain and to learn about this area of Lima so if you are passing by don't hesitate to take a break to see the sites around there.

I hope that you have enjoyed this journey! Lima is a city to discover.

Thanks for reading!

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