Lima, the capital of Peru

Wednesday, July 11, we took an early bus from Trujillo – it is 8 hours to Lima, the capital of Peru. The PanAmerican Highway south of Trujillo follows close to the coast as the Andes mountains crowd close to the Pacific Ocean. We were still traveling thru the desert with areas of sand forming dunes right up to the base of the hills but we also crossed small rivers where the desert blooms. The taxi driver from the bus station into the city center helped us to find a great hotel near Plaza San Martin, the room even has a heater and at $20 per night was a great bargan. It is winter here now and quite cold and cloudy.

Thursday was spent exploring the old city center. A walking street connects Plaza San Martin to the central plaza, Plaza de Armas. Along the way we passed the first of the three churches that we visited over the day, Iglesia La Merced. The church was open and Doreen took a photo of the main altar, also some of the many side altars were just as beautiful but difficult to get far enough away to get good photos. Some were elaborately carved wood and others were gilded gold as was the main altar.

The main plaza (Plaza de Armas) was another block further down the street. The Cathedral fronts the plaza along one side and that was the next church that we visited. It is a very large structure and the nave is lined with not only altars but many small alcoves or small chapels. Photos were allowed so I took pictures of all that I could. Below the main altar were the catacombs, the burial site of many of the important religious officials. The most recent tomb was in 2000, the latest Archbishop to die. The carvings on the altar, pulpit, choir, lectern and main altar were intricate and very beautiful. The many, side alcoves also had beautiful large altars, all different. The first one that we stopped in had murals all over its walls done in a mosaic of tiny tiles.

The third church that we visited was Iglesia San Francisco (an active monastery) where we had a guided tour and no os were allowed. The guide led us thru the choir loft from which we could look down into the nave of the main church, the monk’s library with its large collection of very old books, some from before printing, the monk’s dining room where the current monks still take meals, one of the many gardens or plazas of the monastery and down into the catacombs. The catacombs contain the bones of over 25,000 people who had been buried there before the outside cemetery was developed. An archaeologist, while counting the bones, had re-arranged them into decorative groupings placing together all the bones of the same type. It was really weird!!

From San Francisco we continued around the block to the “Park of the Wall”. This park contains uncovered remnants of the original wall that once enclosed the city and parts of some of the homes that had once been built over it. We lunched at a small cafe in the park before returning of the main plaza. The main plaza has the governor’s mansion along one side and the City Hall along another, all highly beautiful.