World Heritage #0500 – Lima

Last modified 28.03.2022 | Published 14.12.1987Peru, South America, World Heritage Sites

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The historic centre of Lima, the capital of Peru, has a powerful appearance due to its Spanish colonial legacy.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.


Official facts

  • Full name of site: Historic centre of Lima
  • Country: Peru
  • Date of Inscription: 1988
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 500:

“Although severely damaged by earthquakes, this ‘City of the Kings’ was, until the middle of the 18th century, the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. Many of its buildings, such as the Convent of San Francisco (the largest of its type in this part of the world), are the result of collaboration between local craftspeople and others from the Old World.”


My visit

I visited Lima on my 1987 South American journey. I wrote this to my family:

“There are impressive churches and buildings in Lima. We visited the building which housed the headquarters of the Inquisition in South America for some centuries. The methods and instruments of torture we read about and watched were truly gruesome: Deep dungeons, torture racks, the burning of foot soles dipped in oil, etc. etc. Next to the prisoner sat the priest with pen and paper ready to write down the “confession”.

We stayed in Lima only two days largely because of our personal safety. The city is almost worse than Rio when it comes to crime, and they say that there are schools for pickpockets. A method they are using is to stand in front of you with a spray can of paint and just like that start to spray all over you. While the unlucky tourist gets furious or confused, whatever, he gets robbed by another thief from behind.

The diversion manoeuvre is repeated in the toothpaste method. It consists of spraying the tourist with (green) toothpaste and a “nice, random” passerby makes him aware of the mess. This person also offers to help drying it all off, alone or with a friend to follow up. And what happens when they get their fingers on the tourist’s body…?

I was twice subjected to this trick, but I knew of the danger and nothing was stolen. ”

I might have deleted the last three paragraphs here, but in my opinion a city’s past cannot be separated from its present state, or vice versa. My diary would maybe give me more hints but I do remember the fantastic central square of Plaza de Armas with its colonial style buildings around. The picture is of the Cathedral located on this square.

Read more about my visit. 

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