From the 17th century(1674), this is a really nice old church.
The catacombs contain skulls and leg bones of about 75,000 people, some of them monks that used to live here. It's really pretty bizarre. They often have been stacked in eerie geometric patterns.
Open: Mon - Sunday 9:30am - 5:30pm
Definately worth checking out San Francisco church, complete with Bone ossary! If I remember rightly the church features a painting of the Last Supper complete with Christ and the Disciples tucking into Cuy (Guinea Pig) - I don't remember that being mentioned in the St James' version of the Bible I read at school. There are English language guides to the Church, which are worth going on as the place has an incredible history.
UNESCO classified the church as a Cultural World Heritage Site for its architecture and jewels (see website).
You can tour the church for 5 soles in English or Spanish or just enjoy the beautiful building from the outside. I thought it was fitting that there were so many pigeons on the church and the surrounding area, as the saint was known for his love of animals.
Saint Francis is said to have spoken these words while preaching to birds. The text is from Vigina (The Little Flowers):
"My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you... you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore... always seek to praise God."
This is the beautiful facade of San Francisco monastery!!! Probably one of prettiest buildings in Lima.
The guided visit also includes the museum of religious arts, the library and the catacombs. Yes... catacombs... the church and the monastery were built over underground catacombs, which were used as cemeteries during the colonial period. The impressive amount of bones in the catacombs is maybe the strongest memory I have of this place...
Stacks of human bones and dark, narrow passageways make this creepy trip to the San Francisco Catacombs a must-do. There's a spanish language tour for the convent, but if you don't speak spanish anyway, it's fun and much creepier to wander here by yourself. Just don't forget to look out for the large round six foot high round thing in one room -- climb up and take a closer look at the circle of skulls!
A visit to this church and monastery is only 5 Soles and is well worth it. The church dates to 1674 and was my first introduction to "Lima Baroque" architecture, which I still don't really understand. However, I did enjoy seeing the carved portal and seeing the artwork throughout the monasteries many rooms, courtyards and stairways. I must admit that I was concerned about the preservation of much of the artwork and carvings, which are mostly just exposed to the elements and don't seem to be very well-maintained. Tours can be arranged in English, but we just followed along with the nearest guide who happened to be speaking Spanish. One of the best parts of the tour is going down underneath the structure into the catacombs where the bones of over 75,000 people are stacked in some interesting patterns (skulls, hipbones, femurs, etc. are all neatly stacked together in an eerie type of organization).
A few years a ago one discovered a giant masscrave under the convent. It is believed to maybe be from the plague or something like that. Now one can take tours around these graves, a rather chilling experience as they have lined up the skulls and put them in circles. An intresting, albeit macabre, experience which is not for those who are claustrophobic or easily get squezzy about seeing millions of bones lined up.
The church and convent of San Francisco was built around 1674. The exterior of the building is a yellow colonial styled structure with Baroque architecture. Upon entering you pay $2 for a 45 minute tour. On your tour you first see the church with its wood carvings and tiles. Next, you walk to a monastery with a museum of religious art. Paintings by the local artist Francisco Zurbarán and painting of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi can be seen here. As you continue walking you are taken to a library with an impressive collection of over 25 thousand books. This room houses massive choir books on floor stands. As you continue walking you end up in the convent area where at the far end of the dining area is a huge painting of the Last Supper. The artist added some Peruvian elements to the scene. The apostles and Jesus are dining on cuy, roast guinea pig and drinking Chicha, an alcoholic Peruvian corn drink from a gold Peruvian cup called a queros.
We next walked near a courtyard with various plants and walkways before heading to the main attraction of the catacombs. The catacombs served as a cemetery until 1821. At first church members were buried here. Later, it served as a public burial ground for the poor, slaves and servants who were placed in a labyrinth of wells 10-20 meters deep. The bodies were stacked in wells and covered with lime. After they decomposed, the bones were arranged elsewhere. It is estimated that over 70,000 bodies were kept here. Some bones are scattered. Other bones are arranged in different ways. There are places where the skull is places in the middle and bones radiate outwards like a spider.
The church and catacombs are quite a unique experience to say the least.
The convent is full of huge paintings, a massive library and much more. The catacombs were amazing. I didn't take any pictures of th catacombs, didn't felt confortabel to take pictures of human bones.
There are tours in Spanish and English
San Francisco is probably the most famous church here after the Cathedral. Inside the convent you will find a magnificient library, catacombs and some peaceful patios.
There are guided tours (most in spanish, but also in english) showing you the many chapels, paintings, stairs, patios...
The famous catacomb of Lima, the place where the Spanish buried their people, is located inside the San Francisco Convent (Convento de San Francisco). You can walk from the presidential palace to this convent and pay a small fee to have a guided tour in English or Spanish. They may have other languages available. You get to see old religious paintings and a peaceful courtyard and admire the beatiful architecture of the old convent. Usually, the last thing they show you is the catacomb. Built using egss shells and bird poo, this catacomb is the resting place of hundreds of people. They say it used to be a lot larger, but they destroyed most of it to build roads. Some rumors say that there is a secret passage inside the catacomb that can lead you to the secret treasure of the Incas. They are just rumors, of course.
The Church of San Francisco is one of the few buildings that predates Lima's 18th century earthquake, which alone makes it worth a visit. But its interior beauty also far surpasses that of Lima's cathedral. If you want to get an idea of what religious life was like during Spanish colonial times, this is the place to come. It's in a quaint square just down a few narrow streets from the Plaza de Armas.
During your tour of San Francisco, before you get to the anticipated catacombs, you wind around the upstairs convent area. At the far end of the refectory (dining room), is a floor-to-ceiling depiction of the Last Supper. It was painted by a Belgian, and shows Jesus and apostles dining on cuy (roast guinea pig) and drinking chicha, adding some definitely Peruvian aspects to the scene.
Entrance to San Francisco, which includes a guided tour (most likely in Spanish, although some English guides were apparently available), is 5 soles.
I was reminded slightly of our trip to see the Sistine Chapel. Everyone takes this tour to see the bones in the catacombs, but first you're taken all 'round the church before finally heading underground.
We were told we'd have an English speaking guide, but that was unfortunately not the case. However, you didn't need to speak much Spanish to understand bones, and lots of 'em.
I believe the number was 25,000 bodies found in the catacombs, and more yet undiscovered (they're not going down any further). The bones have been arranged according to type (sections with all leg bones, arm bones, skulls) and in "artistic" arrangements.
Entrance is 5 soles. The tour took about an hour.
One of the most important religious centres.
Founded by Francisco Pizzaro en 1535.
1656 the tempel of San Francisco was destroyed, but a new tempel was reconstructed during the XVII century.
It has the best exterior of any of the religious buildings of Lima from colonial times.
In the area are also a monastery, a museum and the catacombes.