Every day at noon at the Plaza de Armas (also called Plaza Mayor), trumpets blare, drums pound, and cymbals crash as the guard changes outside the presidential palace. Enjoy the Spanish fanfare like a local: from a plaza bench with an ice cream cone. The Plaza is also the site of festivals, concerts, and the much-loved annual National Pisco Day when the fountain spouts free high-proof grape brandy for all.
Plaza de Armas
During the colonial era, Lima was one of the most important cities in South America. This hub of trade and Catholicism was the capital of the largest Spanish Viceroyalty in the region, and the main square—Plaza de Armas—was the epicenter of it all. To this day, the plaza houses the Government Palace (official workplace and residence of Peru‘s president), the cathedral (built during the 17th century, and home to a rich collection valuable artwork), and the Municipal Palace. The space is also ringed by a series of private colonial buildings with intricately carved wooden balconies. Behind the Municipal Palace, you’ll find a small but charming pedestrian street filled with small cafes, perfect for a taking a break with some tapas and beer. Heading south from the main square, you’ll reach Jirón de la Unión, a long and colorful pedestrian street filled with street performers, shops, and inspiring architecture.
Plaza de Armas
The heart of Lima, this central main square is almost always the first stop of any tour in the city. Dating to the 16th century and established by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the 140-square-meter (1,500-square-foot) plaza is surrounded by impressive architectural gems, including the colonial-style Palacio Arzobispal, built in 1924, which is adorned with wow-inspiring Moorish balconies. The plaza’s centerpiece, a tiered bronze fountain, sits where gallows once stood and has spewed water since 1650.
Travel back in time with a visit to the historic center of Lima, which boasts stellar examples of Spanish colonial architecture. Start at the central Plaza de Armas (also called the Plaza Mayor), site of the 17th-century baroque cathedral and the adjacent Archbishop’s Palace. On the north side of the square, on the banks of the Rimac River, sits the Government Palace, the residence of Peru’s president. Tours of the palace can be arranged in advance—or just wait outside at noon to catch the changing of the guards. Later, stroll the streets around the plaza to admire the colonial-era mansions, then head slightly south to visit some of the museums in the Pueblo Libre area. Photo by Theodore Scott/Flickr.
People Watching at the Plaza
Plaza Mayor is the heart of old town Lima and it provides a number of beautiful buildings to visit. The Cathedral (pictured) and Museum of Arts and Treasures can significantly enhance a visitors understanding of the history of the ancient “City of Kings,” with its collection of religious art. Additionally, if you’re in the area around noon head to the nearby Presidential Palace where the changing of the guard takes place Monday - Saturday. 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.
City square (or circle) in Lima, Peru
It was our first night in Lima, Peru and we eagerly awaited our friends who had flown in from other parts of the world so we could go out and get a feel for what our first South American city had to offer. As our van shows up, we jump right in, scream hello and head out to start our city tour. Everyone’s excited. We hit a few sights and then made our way into Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas, in Lima’s historic center. In full view was the city’s government palace and cathedral beautifully lit up during the warm summer night. We were all in awe with the gorgeous colonial architecture and historical significance it held. What a wonderful way to start the trip and leave an everlasting impression in our hearts. I took the time to capture the moment with my camera to share with friends and family and am now doing the same with the wonderful AFAR community. Be sure to click on the link below to enjoy the photograph in full effect. Enjoy!
Lima’s Main Square
Pretty much every Peruvian city has a Plaza Mayor or Plaza das Armas, which is their equivalent to a “Main Square”, usually where the cities started. It’s the same way in Lima, and when you are at Plaza de Armas, you can appreciate the Peruvian Colonial beauty. Surrounding it you can find Lima’s Cathedral, the Arcebispado (Bishop’s House), the Governor’s Palaca and the City Hall. It has been the place for trading and for major events, such as the Peruvian Independence. To this day, Peruvians gather at the Plaza for political events, and every day thousands of people go by it, to shop, for business reasons or political assignments at the institutions and corporations in the area.