The church and monastery of Saint Francis were consecrated in 1673 and completed in 1774. The church, built in the Spanish Baroque style, survived earthquakes in 1687 and1746 but was extensively damaged in 1970. The complex was World Heritage listed in 1991 as part of the Historic Centre of Lima.
One of the most interesting features of the monastery is the Catacombs. Located below the building is an ossuary and a maze of passageways (said to connect to the cathedral during the time of the Inquisition). they remained in use until 1808 and were re-discovered in 1943. One of the features is a pit of bones and skulls arranged in a circular design.
When I visited I was disappointed not to be able to take photos - even without a flash.
Open daily from 09.30 am to 05.45 pm.
The Church of San Francisco and Monastery is open almost daily for tours every hour between 9-5 for the low price of 10 Soles. This is a popular attraction and unfortunately there aren't many English speaking tour guides. I had to settle on a Spanish speaking guide, which I found to be difficult in the areas I was particularly interested in. I won't attempt to put any background info from guide books, because I really didn't experience that part of the tour. The entire tour doesn't allow photography. I was bummed because I was really interested in the Last Supper painting. Jesus and his disciples were enjoying a lovely roasted cuy! Another interesting point to mention would be the vandalized frescos through out the monastery. The monks on the frescos have their faces completely scratched out. I wish that I could have asked why this occured. And finally the catacombs are such a hit on the tour. It is quite an amazing sight!
Another quick tip: Visit during the week if you would like to have the chance to take a full picture of the front the church with out the entire front plaza filled with vendors.
*cuy is guinea pig, yes peruvians eat guinea pig!
** Photos and video are not permitted in the church or in the catacombs!
Nestled almost adjacent to the Cathedral of Lima is the impressive Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. The church was built in 1674 and is considered to be an outstanding example of colonial baroque architecture. At the door is a very nice wooden portal. Inside the church there is a very nice altar and well preserved wooden stairs. There is a tour of the church that takes about an hour but we didn't go. In the basement of the church is a former burial ground with a catacomb and hundreds of skulls.
The San Francisco Monastery was built by donation between 1546 and 1735. ( Franciscans rely on donations because they don’t do business.) Usually their facilities are rather plain, but their rich benefactors were showing off. There are hand painted tiles from Spain, and one altar that is solid silver. Walls in the priests’ dressing room are carved wood covered with gold and the floor is alabaster.
Benefactors expect the honor of being buried under the church floor, but there were too many of them. They solved the problem with catacombs. Estimates range from 25,000-70,000 skeletons down there, and some of the bones arranged in decorative patterns.
Built in 1557, destroyed by earthquakes in 1656 and rebuilt in 1672, San Francisco is a fascinating church to explore in Lima. Contained here is a church, convent, eerie cloisters, and a library with ancient manuscripts and books. We took a very educational guided tour of the complex. As you explore the church make sure to look for the painting of The Last Supper. The one in this church as a very Peruvian context. The meal being served is Cuy better known as Peruvian Guinea Pig.
The monumental set of buildings of San Francisco of Lima, is the most representative jewel of the viceregal architecture of Peru, being the most beautiful colonial complex located in the historical center of the city. The buildings of this remarkable set are churches of San Francisco, La Soledad and El Milagro, that together with the courtyards and annexed are known the MONASTERY OF SAN FRANCISCO.
This old colonial building has tons to recommend it. It was built around an interior courtyard which is full of lovely green foliage and cloisters and fresh air. Numerous walls are covered with colorful Portuguese and Spanish tiles so the look is both Moorish and Spanish. There are many beautiful paintings throughout the rooms, including one of The Last Supper with angels bearing parrot wings – exactly the kind of local influence I love to come across! The Franciscan monks collected a world-renowned library set in a beautiful room that looks even older than it is. Our guide said that a couple of the books were so old they were hand-written. You can’t walk into the room because it’s so fragile, but you can look in from the doorway – it reminded me a bit of the ornate libraries in the Strahov Monastery in Prague.
In the crypt you’ll find the ghoulish catacombs, where tens of thousands of old bones have been arranged in geometric patterns. I think a lot of people take the tour just to see this area, but in my opinion the monastery would be well worth visiting even without it.
The San Francisco church is attached to the monastery and is worth a look as well. It has many elaborate and ornate statues and paintings in the little altars up and down each side, and a beautiful dark wood altar.
The tours (you can’t go in on your own) only cost $2 or $3, and they’re offered in both Spanish and English.
Deep under Iglesia San Francisco is its weirdest site. In the catacombs are the remains of 1000's. The monks here have arranged these remains by bone types. The strangest is this arrangement in an old well.
Our guide kept calling this a convent, but I think that is a missed translation on her part because when I think of a convent, I think of nuns. Apparently this church is most famous for the catacombs, and secondarily for the library and collection of religious art. It is probably best known for a mural of the last supper depicting the apostles dining on guinea pig and a devil standing next to Judas.
We saw none of that, because we stayed to see if the Chinese Ambassador would come out of the government building while we were watching so we had to cut short our visit here. The catacombs are somewhat claustraphobic, and the site is definitely not handicapped accessible. Some people didn't even go in and waited outside in the courtyard.
The San Francisco Monastery and Church was consecrated in 1673 and is one of the best preserved colonial churches in Lima. It withstood the earthquakes of 1687 and 1746 but did suffer extensive damage in a quake in 1970.
The architecture has been described as baroque or Spanish Neoclassicism.
It is open every day from 9:45 to 5:30
Adult 5.00 S/I
Students 2.50 S/I
Child 1.00 S/I
Easily the highlite of Lima. Await for the departure of a English or Spanish speaking tour by sitting in the courtyard and admire the intricacy of the exterior of the building, and try to snap a good photo of Limans play with the many pigeons that call the outside of the cathedral home. The inside of the Cathedral is fantastic. Regarded as one of the best cathedrals in South America it is a suprise at every room. Unfortunately photography is forbidden. :-( Do not miss this.
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