Historic Church in Lima

Basilica of San Francisco of Lima

Explore San Francisco Church in Lima: colonial architecture, a historic library, fascinating catacombs, and unique artwork.

San Francisco Church in Lima, Peru, stands as a testament to colonial architecture and religious history. Notable for its striking baroque facade and grand catacombs containing the remains of an estimated 25,000 people, it is one of Lima's most visited historical landmarks. Inside, visitors can admire the intricate lattice domes, the historic library with thousands of antique texts, and the famed painting of the Last Supper with a Peruvian twist.

Architectural Features of San Francisco Church

The San Francisco Church boasts an impressive architecture that captures the essence of Baroque style, characterized by ornate decorations and a rich use of colors and contrasts. The central facade features detailed stone work and sculpted figures, while the interior presents a notable display of religious art. The church is adorned with gilded altars, intricate frescoes, and wood carvings that are significant examples of Spanish influence in Peru.

Art and Artifacts

Housing numerous colonial paintings and sculptures, San Francisco Church is also renowned for its artistic heritage. One of the most intriguing pieces is the Peruvian rendition of the Last Supper, depicting Jesus and the apostles dining on guinea pig, a traditional Andean dish. This unique artwork not only reflects the blending of Spanish and local cultures but also adds a unique perspective to the well-known biblical scene.

The Catacombs

Beneath the floors of the San Francisco Church lie the catacombs, a historical burial site. Initially intended as a cemetery for the elite of Lima, the catacombs now serve as a museum that provides insights into the burial customs and religious practices of colonial-era Peru. Visitors can explore this network of subterranean passages, lined with neatly arranged human bones, creating a fascinating, though somber, atmosphere. It is important for visitors to be respectful as they navigate this historic burial ground.

The Historic Library

The church's library is an invaluable cultural treasure, containing around 25,000 ancient books, some dating back to the time of the early Spanish conquerors. This collection includes many first editions and is considered one of the most important in South America. For historians and book enthusiasts alike, this library offers a profound glimpse into Peru's colonial past.

Nearby Attractions and Points of Interest

In close vicinity to San Francisco Church, visitors can enrich their experience by exploring additional attractions. The Main Square, also known as Plaza Mayor, is steps away featuring the Government Palace and Lima Cathedral. For those interested in art and culture, a visit to the nearby Lima Art Museum presents a comprehensive overview of Peruvian art from pre-Columbian times to the present.

Accessibility and Visiting Hours

San Francisco Church is accessible to visitors most days, except during special religious events or ceremonies. The church offers guided tours that shed light on its history and features. These tours often include access to parts of the church not available to the general public. Visitors should check ahead for current visiting hours and tour schedules to plan their visit accordingly.

Guided Tours and Educational Opportunities

For a more informative visit, guests can join one of the many guided tours available at San Francisco Church. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide background on the church's construction, history, and ongoing significance in Lima's cultural landscape. Educational opportunities are frequent with some tours focusing on specific aspects such as art history or religious practices.

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