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Plaza de Armas: The cradle of Lima

The Plaza de Armas, also called the Plaza Mayor, is the cradle of Lima. This is where Francisco Pizarro founded Lima in 1535, making it the oldest square in the city. The historic grandeur is reflected in the buildings around the square, such as the Palacio de Gobierno, the Palacio Arzobispal and the Cathedral.

During the colonial period, the Plaza de Armas was the economic and cultural heart of Lima. Through the centuries it served as the setting for many religious celebrations, markets and bull fights. The square is still very lively today and is a great place to get into the spirit of historic Lima. On warm days, people come together to stay cool around the unique bronze fountain, the pièce de resistance in the centre of the square.

Palacio de Gobierno

The impressive presidential palace is located on the banks of the Rimac. In the heyday of the Incas the site had a strong religious connotation, and it is where the last Inca emperor of the area lived. After the Spanish conquest, Francisco Pizarro built his palace on the same exact spot in 1535. After various earthquakes and fires, not much was left of the original building. An old tree planted by Pizarro is thought to be the only remainder of those times. The current palace was completed in 1938.


The changing of the guard takes place at exactly noon every day. In their scarlet and blue uniforms the soldiers are a sight to behold. A (free) tour is definitely worth your while, but booking at least 2 days in advance is essential. You’ll be amazed by the imposing entrance and lavishly decorated halls. Many of the objects inside tell the story of Lima’s colonial history.

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Palacio de Gobierno

Who was Francisco Pizarro?

Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475-1541) was a Spanish explorer. In 1532 he triumphed over Inca emperor Atahualpa in the battle for the country. Three years later, in 1535, Pizarro founded the city of Lima at the Plaza de Armas. He did not enjoy his successes for long, however: in 1541 he was killed by his former colleagues. Pizarro’s tomb is located in the Cathedral.

Cathedral and Palacio Arzobispal

Lima Cathedral is one of the city’s best-known buildings. In 1535 Francisco Pizarro laid the first stone for the first church built at this site, which was later destroyed by an earthquake. The current Cathedral dates back to 1746 and includes both baroque and neoclassical features. When visiting, note the beautifully arched ceiling and the mosaic-decorated tomb of Pizarro.
Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Palacio Arzobispal. This archiepiscopal palace is lavishly decorated with precious materials such as cedar, mahogany and tiles from Seville. The first floor is used for exhibitions featuring religious art, and the second is set up with antique furniture and still used by the Archbishop of Lima to perform his official duties.

Lima Cathedral