The Plaza de San Martín – a reminder of Lima’s struggle for independence

Perhaps the most beautiful place in Lima: the Plaza de San Martín

  • Plaza San Martín

    La Plaza de San Martín - un recordatorio de la lucha de Lima por la independencia

The inhabitants of Lima say that their city is the most beautiful in the world. Others affirm the opposite. Instead of discussing this, it is easier to start looking for the most beautiful places in the city. These can be individual buildings or squares. One of them is the Plaza San Martín, located at the southwest end of the old town. Dedicated to the place is the freedom fighter José San Martín, who in 1820 played an important role in the rebellion against Spanish rule. Today, the plaza is a popular meeting place for artists, locals and visitors of Lima.

The monument and a small misunderstanding

In the center of the square is the large equestrian statue of José San Martins, on a huge white pedestal. On a pedestal on the pedestal is a smaller statue: the Motherland, the symbolic mother of Peru. If you’re in Lima for the first time, first you admire it, and then you’re surprised. The reason for this is the peculiar “crown” of Motherland. The statue was made in Spain, with the instruction to decorate it with a headdress. This should represent a “flame”, in German “llama” or “Lama”. Why the craftsmen chose the latter is not very clear; after all, a flame would have been the noblest symbol. On the other hand, the Spaniards, even with the little lama in the head of their mother, have turned the jam into a clearly Latin American symbol, and nobody will think that “Motherland” could be a reference to the word “mother country”. Native Spain Therefore, this mishap could only elicit a broad smile from the Peruvians, and the importance of the square, dedicated to the centennial of independence, acquired a new dimension.

Design and architecture at the Plaza de San Martin

The Plaza de San Martín is an extensive and open space, interspersed with geometric gardens and borders framed but not dominated by white buildings with baroque and neocolonial facades. The buildings did not coincide with the square. Some of them, such as the Teatro Colón and the Giacoletti building, date from years prior to the planning and inauguration of the square. The Pumacahua Arcades, the Hotel Bolivar and the National Club headquarters, on the other hand, were built after the square received its name and form. What unites the buildings is the fact that they all originated in the first half of the 20th century and, therefore, are relatively uniform. Therefore, they are different from the older representative buildings of the old city, which have been regularly damaged by earthquakes over the centuries and renovated in different styles.