The Cathedral of Lima: testimony to the Spanish colonization of Peru

In the historic center of Lima, in the Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), is the cathedral. The solid building, together with the archbishop’s palace, occupies an entire side of the main square. As the cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly by earthquakes over the centuries, different architectural styles are visible today. But not only destruction was the reason for the repeated construction. The church as a cathedral in its first form was simply not majestic enough. The first version was a fairly simple adobe structure. Only about thirty years after its foundation, the Cathedral of Seville had to serve as a model for a new building. Today, the facade of the Cathedral of Lima can be attributed to the typical Baroque colonial style, while the two towers were renovated in neoclassical style. After the earthquake of 1746, the renovation of the neoclassical style eliminated much of the Baroque interior decoration. The cathedral has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1991.

Sights inside

The Cathedral of Lima, in its current form, has a nave with two corridors, each with seven chapels. The altars, which are in the chapels, come from different eras. The chapels show paintings and statues, for example, the Sagrada Familia. In the old sacristy and adjoining rooms is the Museum of Religious Art. Worth seeing is the fully gilded main altar, as well as the choir stalls carved and richly decorated in Rococo style. The church is the burial place of several personalities who played a role in the history of Peru since colonization.

The tomb of Pizarro in the Cathedral of Lima

Probably the main attraction of the Cathedral of Lima is the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror who conquered the Inca Empire. On January 18, 1535, he founded the city of Lima in a place where there was a native settlement. The same day he himself brought the first stone for the cathedral on his shoulders. This event is a good example of how important religion was and how establishing a city was synonymous with building a church. Near the main entrance is the funerary chapel decorated with mosaics by Pizarros. There was confusion regarding the authenticity of the bones when, in 1977, when cleaning a tomb, the workers found several skeletons and a lead box with an inscription that contained a skull. The inscription said that this was Pizarro’s skull. Investigations have found that for years a false skeleton like the Pizarro was exhibited. Today, the lead box, the body and the skull are united.

Location and opening times

The church is easy to reach due to its location in the center. It is open to visitors Monday to Saturday 09: 00-17: 00. The museum in the back has the same opening hours as the cathedral from Monday to Friday, Saturday 10: 00-13: 00. On Sundays and public holidays, the cathedral is closed to visitors. Saturdays (09:00 clock) and Sundays (11:00 clock) takes place the fair, a visit can be quite worthwhile. Admission to the church is free for visitors, but the museum requires entry: 10 soles, the equivalent of 2.50 euros for adults, 2 soles, also 0.50 euros for children.

Cathedral Lima

  • Address: Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
  • Built: 1535 – 1540
  • Phone: +51 1 4279647
  • Membership: Roman Catholic Church
  • Architectural styles: Gothic architecture, Renaissance architecture, Neoclassical architecture
  • Architect: Francisco Becerra
  • Municipalidad

Cathedral Lima

Sights in Lima