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Historic Centre of Lima

Historic Centre of Lima

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.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Centre historique de Lima

Bien que sérieusement endommagée par des tremblements de terre, cette « ville des rois » a été jusqu'au milieu du XVIIIe siècle la capitale et la ville la plus importante des territoires sous domination espagnole en Amérique du Sud. Nombre de ses monuments (comme le couvent San Francisco, le plus grand de ce genre dans cette partie du monde) sont des créations communes d'artisans locaux et de maîtres du Vieux Continent.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

وسط ليما التاريخي

بالرغم من التضرّر الكبير الذي تعرّضت له هذه المدينة جرّاء الهزات الارضية، بقيت "مدينة الملوك" هذه، حتى منتصف القرن الثامن عشر، العاصمة وأهم المدن التي كانت خاضعة للحكم الاسباني في أميركا الجنوبية. أما أبرز آثارها (كدير سان فرنسيسكو وهو الأضخم من نوعه في هذه المنطقة في العالم)، فهي ابتكارات مشتركة بين حرفيّين محليّين ومعلّمي القارة القديمة.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Исторический центр Лимы

Несмотря на большой урон, нанесенный землетрясениями, этот "Город королей" оставался до середины XVIII в. столицей и важнейшим городом испанских владений в Южной Америке. Многие из его зданий, такие как самый большой в этом регионе мира монастырь Святого Франциска, это результат сотрудничества местных умельцев и мастеров Старого света.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Centro histórico de Lima

Lima, la “Ciudad de los Reyes”, fue la urbe y capital más importante de los dominios españoles en América del Sur hasta mediados del siglo XVIII. Pese a los graves daños sufridos por los terremotos, posee numerosos monumentos arquitectónicos, como el convento de San Francisco, el más grande de esta parte del mundo en su género. Muchos edificios limeños son creaciones conjuntas de artesanos y artistas locales y arquitectos y maestros de obras del Viejo Continente.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Historisch centrum van Lima

Lima wordt ook wel de ‘Stad van de Koningen’ genoemd. Hoewel aardbevingen Lima zware schade toebrachten, was het tot halverwege de 18e eeuw de hoofdstad en belangrijkste stad van de Spaanse landen in Zuid-Amerika. Veel van de gebouwen zijn het resultaat van de samenwerking tussen lokale ambachtslieden en anderen uit de Oude Wereld. Een mooi voorbeeld hiervan is het Klooster van San Francisco, het grootste klooster van dit type in dit deel van de wereld. Lima werd op 5 januari 1535 gesticht en speelde vanaf 1542 een leidende rol in de geschiedenis van de Nieuwe Wereld.

Source: unesco.nl

Historic Centre of Lima (Peru) © Silvan Rehfeld
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

The Historic Centre of Lima, known as the “Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of Kings), is located in the Rimac valley, and was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro in January 1535 on the territories led by the Chiefdom of Rimac. Lima was the political, administrative, religious and economic capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. The city played a leading role in the history of the New World from 1542 to the 18th century when the creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada (1718) and of La Plata (1777) gradually put an end to the omnipotence of the oldest Spanish colony on South America.

The evangelization process brought several religious orders by the end of the XVI century. They gained great recognition which translated into the construction of many churches and convents of great extension and sophistication. Also, hospitals, schools and universities were built. San Marcos University was built in 1551. The city’s social and cultural life was organized within these places, thus giving the Historic Centre a convent image which characterized the urban profile of the city until half of the XX century. There, top level artistic creation and production took place and influenced most regions in South America. The demographic change, from the colonial city to today, explains the serious modifications to the urban landscape. Scant trace of the historic centre of Lima can be seen in the present metropolitan area, with the exception of a few remarkable ensembles - the Plaza de Armas (with the cathedral, Sagrario chapel, archbishop's palace), the Plaza de la Vera Cruz with Santo Domingo, and especially the monumental complex of the convent of San Francisco. Although urban development in the 20th century - the construction of the Avenida Abancay in 1940 - has whittled away at this immense domain, San Francisco still presents an ensemble of convent buildings that is remarkable for its surface area, its coherence, the beauty of the architecture and the richness of interior decorations.

Many of the public works built during the viceroyalty period are important Historic monuments today, such as the bridge of stone over the Rímac river, the Paseo de Aguas, the Alameda de los Descalzos and the Plaza de Toros de Acho located in the current district of Rimac, and the General Cemetery, currently called Presbítero Matías Maestro. In the XVII century, the city was surrounded by walls until 1870. During this period, Lima’s architecture changed due to several strong earthquakes in 1586, 1687 and 1746. Therefore, buildings were stabilized with adobe and bricks on the first floor and quincha (used during pre-Hispanic times) on the second, thus improving structural behaviour during earthquakes. Civil architecture was characterized by facades, hallways, patios and particularly closed –or “box”- balconies, which slightly varied in style and type during the Republican period, until the end of the XIX century when urban “modernization” started and new architectonic European oriented styles, were introduced. The historic monuments (religious or public buildings, such as the Torre Tagle palace) which lie within the perimeter of the World Heritage site date from the 17th and 18th centuries and are typical examples of Hispano-American Baroque. The architecture of the other buildings is often representative of the same period. Thus, despite the addition of certain 19th-century constructions (such as Casa Courret in the Art Nouveau style) to the old urban fabric, the historic nucleus of the town recalls Lima at the time of the Spanish Kingdom of Peru.

Criterion (iv)

The Historic Centre of Lima bears witness to the architecture and urban development of a Spanish colonial town of great political, economic and cultural importance in Latin America. It represents an outstanding expression of a regional cultural process, which preserves its architectural, technological, typological, aesthetic, historic and urban values adapted in terms of availability of materials, climate, earthquakes and the requirements of society.San Francisco de Lima is an outstanding example of a convent ensemble of the colonial periods in Latin America and is one of the most complete.


Though seriously damaged by earthquakes (1940, 1966, 1970 and 1974), the area delimited as the Historic Centre of Lima has all the elements and physical characteristics that convey its Outstanding Universal Value, within a wide enough extension, including besides the urban tracing, the San Francisco Convent, and several testimonies of domestic, public, religious, military and industrial civil architecture from the XVII to the XX century A.D.

Also, the urban and building characteristics remain in the buffer zone, where many constructions mainly from the XIX and the beginning of XX centuries A.D are found that witness the urban development of the Historic Centre.

Besides the natural deterioration which affects the material integrity of the buildings, the Historic Centre of Lima suffers from additional factors that degrade it in terms of physical, environmental, and urban image. The most evident of these are the uncontrolled commercial exploitation of ancient structures altered to build “popular commercial centres” and the strong presence of public and private transportation generating pollution and vibrations. In addition, the population is increasing as a result of emigration originating from the other regions of the country to the Historic Centre (1940: 400,000; 1990: 7´000,000 inhabitants). These immigrants live, for a very low price, in historic traditional buildings with owners who moved to new urban peripheral areas causing too many people to live under the same roof thus deteriorating and overusing those structures. Abandonment in their conservation and maintenance -due to lack of interest, negligence, poor understanding of functional and cultural values by users and authorities, as well as lack of human resources- is also evident. These conditions will need to be systematically and coherently addressed to ensure that the conditions of integrity are preserved. Public buildings, temples and convents are generally better conserved.


The authenticity of the Historic Centre of Lima is intact as it largely preserves the original features of its urban foundation design, as a checkerboard, and the expansion area from the XVI to the XIX century, including old pre-Hispanic paths heading North (Chinchaysuyo) and East (Antisuyo).

Public, private and religious buildings generally preserve their architectural, technological, typological, aesthetic, historic and urban values, which are a result of the implantation of European styles from different stages of the city’s historic evolution process from the XVI to the XX century. These buildings also adapted to the regional environment in terms of availability of materials, weather, earthquakes and society requirements. Likewise, the use, functions and traditions related to the city’s life grant the Historic Centre its own character, singularity and identity. It represents a unique and unrepeatable expression of a regional cultural process, notwithstanding the earthquakes, real estate speculation and informal commerce, among other aspects. However, the conditions of authenticity are threatened by inappropriate interventions which will need to be controlled through the enforcement of precise regulations and guidelines.

Protection and management requirements

The Historic Centre of Lima is protected by the country’s legal regulations: State Political Constitution; Law Nº 28296, General Law of National Cultural Heritage  Resolution Nº 2900 of 1972 declaring the ancient city as Monumental Zone and buildings with heritage value as National Monuments, as well as Ministerial Resolution Nº 505-74-ED of 1974, Ministerial Resolution Nº 0928-80-ED of 1980, Ministerial Resolution Nº 1251-1985-ED of 1985, Municipal Ordinances Nº 009 and Nº 515 of 1989, Administrative Resolution Nº 159 of 1990 and Administrative Resolution Nº 1352 of 1991, among others, declaring other buildings as Monuments of heritage value.

The boundaries of the Historic Centre of Lima, with its maximum protection and buffer areas, are clearly defined by Municipal Ordinance Nº 062 of year 1994, issued by the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima. Interventions in cultural heritage are regulated by the Municipality and the National Construction Regulation (Title IV).

The Metropolitan Municipality of Lima shares the responsibility for the management of the Historic Centre of Lima with the Rimac District Municipality, since it belongs to the registered area. The Ministry of Culture is the specialized government agency in charge of preserving the Nation’s cultural heritage and along with the aforementioned agencies; it coordinates issues related to the preservation of cultural property.

The Metropolitan Municipality of Lima has an Office of Urban Control and the Municipal Real Estate Enterprise of Lima (EMILIMA) in charge of planning and preparing intervention projects. It has developed management instruments, such as: the Metropolitan Development Plan and the Lima Historic Centre Plan (1987), which established basic guidelines, interventions and projects related to the situation and urban structure, environment, land use, transportation system, habitability and urban dynamics.

  • The "Convent Ensemble of San Francisco de Lima", which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Historic Centre of Lima".