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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
The catacombs served as a cementary until 1808, it is estimated that more than 80.000 bodies were put to rest there.
The bone reservoirs are 10 m deep, and is build to resist seismic waves.
Also note the crypt with the name Venerables where the rests of Fray (brother) Juan Gómez are placed (died 1631). Fray Juan Gómez was immortilized by the famous peruvian author Ricardo Palma in the tradicional legend "El Alacrán [Scorpion] de Fray Gómez.
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).
The librery contains more or less 25000 volumes, written in different languages and on different topics. A catalogization of the books is going on for the moment. The librery is only accessable for research and people with special interest. We others just have to pass by.
This baroque church with distinct Moorish influences survived earlier earthquakes but in 1970, it did not fare so well. Its restoration was so detailed and complete that it remains one of Lima's best examples of colonial architecture.
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