Plaza Mayor and Plaza San Martin
Lima Cathedral © Judith Duk
Shoppers, vendors and sightseers crowd the long pedestrian street that connects the striking Plaza Mayor to Lima's other main square, Plaza de Armas. Visitors will find the heart of the old town in these two locations, and invariably begin their sightseeing at one of them. Plaza de Armas' bronze fountain and old street lamps give it a gracefully colonial feel. Indeed, its story stretches back to the era of Spanish rule, when it was the central marketplace and the venue for bullfights. Today, several notable buildings surround the square, including the grand Spanish Baroque Cathedral, which occupies the site of an ancient Inca temple and houses the Museum of Religious Art and Treasures, and the impressive Government Palace, where the changing of the guard takes place. The Archbishop's Palace is also in the vicinity. Tourists should take in the Plaza San Martin as well. The square is a hive of activity, where shoe-shiners, street artists, and soapbox speakers surround its central fountain. On a cautionary note, visitors should avoid the usually peaceful and jovial Plaza San Martin when political protests and rallies are underway, as these can occasionally turn violent.
Address: Jr. Junin and Jr. Carabaya.