The San Francisco monastery
Architectural open-air museum
Part of Lima’s historic centre is also referred to as ‘Damero de Pizarro’ (‘Pizarro’s checkerboard’). It earned this description because the streets have been laid out in a straight, regular grid pattern. The area is very compact and from the Plaza Mayor, the former Plaza de Armas, most monuments are within walking distance. Keep an eye out for the Casa de Aliaga, the oldest colonial house in the city and perhaps in all of South America, and also for the Palacio Torre Tagle, the current seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One of the most impressive attractions is the San Francisco monastery complex, which consists of 3 churches, 5 monasteries, a library and several crypts. A guide can take you on a 45-minute tour of the impressive buildings and the classic interior, decorated with frescoes, paintings, wood carvings, thousands of old, leather-bound books and a respectable art collection. The crypts, which until the beginning of the 19th century served as Lima's cemetery, are the highlight of the tour. More than 15,000 people have found their final resting place here.
The balconies of the Archbishop’s palace
The famous balcony
As you stroll around the monuments of historic Lima, it is hard to miss the beautiful wooden balconies. Some famous examples include those on the façade of the Archbishop’s Palace, and the balconies of the Casa de Pilatos, Casa del Oidor and Casa Negreiros. As the balconies are a characteristic part of colonial architecture, the city has encouraged its residents to adopt one. This will ensure that the balconies are properly maintained and preserved as a cultural and historic monument.