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Convento De San Francisco

Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima

Centuries-old catacombs decorated with human bones pepper the crypts at this Franciscan monastery dating to 1774. Decked out in impressive Spanish Baroque architecture, the canary-yellow church and monastery also house a remarkable library with some 25,000 antique texts (some predating the Spanish Conquest) and are flush with romantic courtyards and cloisters. Don't forget to look up: A magnificent Moorish-style cupola, carved of Nicaraguan cedar in 1625, oversees the main staircase.

Visiting the catacombs in San Francisco Convent
The San Francisco Convent is one of the most visited and famous tourist attractions in Lima. The land for the Convent was given to the Franciscan Order by Pizarro when the city was founded in 1535. You have to take the tour (in English or Spanish) in order to gain access to the area, but it’s an interesting one. The main attractions are hand-painted tiles from Seville, the cusqueña art movement and the Last Supper painting with elements from the Peruvian culture. The Library is also quite amazing, with thousands of rare books, beautifully displayed, such as the first Spanish dictionary and one edition of the Bible printed in Holland in 1570. You’ll also learn more about the religious history of Peru, the Peruvian Saints, Religious Art, but nothing is more famous - and chilling - than the catacombs, where over 25,000 bones were discovered from the Colonial period burials. The church, which is a classic example of the Peruvian Baroque architecture, is still in operation and sought by local pilgrims.

San Francisco Colonial Church
In the 16th century, when Lima was young, Catholic congregations were allotted sections of the city to build their monasteries, convents, and churches in honor of various patron saints. Most of these historic sites remain to this day, and they are worth a visit whether or not you are religious. The Church of San Francisco (Basilica y Convento de San Francisco) is one of the grandest and best-preserved of these structures. Inside and out, the building is richly decorated with artwork in the baroque and rococo styles. Deep within the basilica, you can walk through the quiet cloisters of the convent, where an overwhelming atmosphere speaks to the ages. This church is also famous for its catacombs, which formed a significant part of Lima's original cemetery infrastructure. Hire a tour to explore all the grandeur and mystique of this colonial church.

Lima's San Francisco Church
Central Lima's Church of San Francisco is a must-see destination. The church and attached convent grounds provide enough material for hours of exploring. It is architecturally stunning and I recommend visiting earlier in the day when the grounds are still quiet and you can walk through the vaulted ceilings and columns undisturbed. In addition to the architecture make sure to tour the catacombs and the church's historic library.

There is a 7.00 Soles admission fee (roughly 6 dollars) and it is worth every cent.

Colin Roohan traveled to Peru courtesy of PromPeru, Travcoa, and LAN as part of AFAR’s partnership with The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. Hear more about Colin’s journey on the USTOA blog.

Beautiful monastery in central Lima. Catacombs underneath. Tours given in English daily throughout the church and catacombs.

Iglesia y Convento de Santo Dominguo
This church and convent was built in the XVIth century by the Spaniards. Underneath lays a catacomb with remains of the first inhabitants of Lima.

Jirón Lampa, Cercado de Lima 15001, Peru
+51 1 4267377
Sun - Sat 9:30am - 5:30pm