Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Downtown Lima

A few views of downtown Lima:

One of the characteristic features of Lima's historic downtown are the 17th, 18th and 19th century balconies that overhang many of the streets. Most are in serious disrepair, but many have been adopted by corporations or wealthy individuals who are paying to have them shored up and restored. These are on Jirón Ancash (jirón is an old word for street which is still in use in Peru, but perhaps nowhere else) which connects the train station and the Presidential Palace to the monastery of San Francisco, which can be glimpsed in the background.

Desamparados train station, on Jirón Ancash, and a few dozen yards from the Presidential Palace. It is a 19th or very early 20th century building, with wrought iron and English glasswork. Trains to Huancayo, over the highest railway pass in the word at Ticlio, can be caught there weekly.

The main square (Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas) with its 1648 Baroque fountain.

The Presidential Palace.

Although it is often called ¨Palacio Pizaro", it is in not in fact the palace built by Francisco Pizarro. The current building dates from the 1930s, and replaced an older mostly wooden structure which in turn occupied the spot of Pizarro's mansion on the east side of the Plaza de Armas. The palace is guarded by members of the Húsares de Junín (Junín Hussars) regiment, who wear a stylized 19th century uniform in red coat and blue pants, with a steel breastplate and a pike. The Húsares conduct a daily changing of the guard ceremony which is a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.

The Cathedral

On the southern side of the Plaza de Armas and on the site of the original church built by the Conquistadors, the cathedral is the third church to occupy the spot. The current cathedral was built in the early 1600s after earthquakes damaged previous structures. It itself has been severely damaged by earthquakes and has had to undergo significant reconstruction on several occasions, the latest time in 1940. To it's left is the Archbishop's Palace.

Lima City Hall, on the north side of the Plaza de Armas, opposite the Archbishop's Palace

The "Rochabús"

The "rochabúses" are police riot-control vehicles equipped with water tanks and water cannon, manufactured by Daimler-Benz. The name comes from Temístocles Rocha. A landowner and minister in the government of Gen. Manuel Odría, Rocha, as chief of the electoral committee, refused to saction the presidential candidature of Fernando Belaúnde in 1956. These vehicles were called out to break up the demonstrations that ensued, and have been called "Rochabúses" ever since.

This one is in pretty good shape as most are rather battle-scarred. It is a bit surprising to still see one of these on the Plaza de Armas as the fleet was being replaced with Chilean vehicles known derisively as "Pinochitos" in reference to former Chilean dicator of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Jirón de la Unión

The Plaza San Martín

Downtown Lima's other main square, the Plaza San Martín, is a few blocks west of the Plaza de Armas to which it is connected by a pedestrian thoroughfare, the Jirón de la Unión. The plaza is dedicated to Gen. José de San Martín a hero of the war for independence. See a bit more about him at the bottom of this post.

Plaza de Acho

Built in 1766 by Viceroy Amat, Acho is the oldest bull ring in the Americas and third oldest in the world, after those of Zaragoza and Seville in Spain. In October, during the feast of Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles), Acho attracts the best taurine talents from all over the world and the plaza is packed to the gills. During the rest of the year it hosts lesser bullfights and folkloric festivals.


Anonymous said...

Did you actually catch Lima with the sun shining in August?

Juancho said...

Not in August, just for a few hours on a few afternoons in July. The days that we were there in August were bone-chillingly cold and damp. People said they couldn't remember it ever being so cold for so long.