The Catacombs of Lima are crypts that served members of associations of Catholic faithful. In the historic center of Lima. They are considered, together with the church, as historical patrimony of the country. Its style is very similar to the Catacombs of Paris.
In the historic center of the capital is the Monumental Complex of San Francisco of Lima, one of the most representative jewels of the colonial architecture of Peru and one of the most artistic corners of the city, being the Catacombs the most visited place by both domestic and foreign tourists.
The buildings that are part of this set built mostly in the seventeenth century, are the churches of San Francisco, La Soledad and El Milagro, which with its cloisters, courtyards and annexes form what is called El Convento de San Francisco.
The construction of this convent began in 1546, the baroque style predominates and it was declared a Minor Basilica by Pope John XXIII in 1963. It is a place that gathers an artistic treasure of great value, accumulated throughout more than 400 years.
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Now let’s take a look at this very visited place, that is undoubtedly one of the good options to do in Lima:
What to do in Lima’s Catacombs
It all begins at the entrance to the church of San Francisco de Asis with its Lima baroque style and a monumental yellow. The entrance to the catacombs of Lima is made from the porter’s room, appreciating the artistic elements that make life inside the place, in which the floor tiles, paintings and sculptures of saints stand out.
The guide of the visit tells very well the origin of the architectural and religious elements, the regular work of the Franciscan friars and the rooms inside the convent of San Francisco.
Touring the catacombs
The tour of the catacombs of Lima is completely underground and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Admire the vaults built with brick, lime and stone, while in the lower part you can see how the bodies were arranged for better distribution.
It is estimated that in its time it must have housed at least 25,000 people. It is impressive to see how some bones such as skulls, tibias, femurs and fibulas are preserved. The catacombs of Lima have become a place of tourist and historical nature that has shaken more than one visitor.
Tourist route of the San Francisco Complex
The visitor will make a touristic route with the help of a guide, being the most important places:
A very spacious place that preserves beautiful Sevillian tiles. There stands out a triptych of the Crucified Lord, a work made by Angelino Medoro.
It houses an oil painting of San Buenaventura, whose author is also Angelino Medoro.
From a main staircase of the seventeenth century you can see a dome in the shape of a half orange, Mudejar style dating from 1625.
An old room that was used for the meetings of the Franciscans. It is a historical room, because in it the regular clergy signed the Act of Independence.
A beautiful baroque choir stalls in cedar from Lima can be seen in this place. Also, we observe a revolving lectern in cedar and baroque style, a piece of furniture with inclined board where large choral books are found.
It is a quadrilateral patio, surrounded by galleries in the form of semicircular arches, highlighting the wonderful set of Sevillian tiles from 1620 where each cloth shows different drawings.
In this environment approximately 25 thousand volumes are kept, among them an Atlas of the whole world, as well as a dictionary which is the first one edited by the Royal Academy.
Hall of Andas
It is a very small room where the platform of St. Jude Thaddeus made of silver embossed with a weight of 1,500 kilos and is carried by 30 people.
Museum – Pinacoteca Room
There is a collection of paintings of “The Passion of Christ” from the XVII century, which belong to the workshop of the famous Flemish painter Pedro Pablo Rubens.
A room named in honor of Pope Clement X.
It is the old dining room of the Franciscans. There stands out the canvas of “The Last Supper” of the XVIII century.
It is the place where the Franciscans used to dress for the Masses. It highlights the drawers made of cedar wood, as well as the collection of paintings “The Apostleship” of the seventeenth century whose author is Francisco de Zurbarán.
Until 1807 there were no cemeteries, people were buried in the basements of the churches. Burial fees were cheaper in the San Francisco Church. It is believed that these catacombs communicate through secret tunnels with the Cathedral and the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
The name Catacombs is due in allusion to the Roman catacombs. They are actually crypts, where by custom of the colonial times, benefactors and members of the clergy were buried at first, and later people of privileged and popular classes, a custom that lasted for more than 300 years.
Recommendations for the visit
- It is not recommended to visit with small children or strollers.
- Visiting it on a tour is the most recommended.
- If you do not go on a tour, the entrance fee is paid in cash.
- Photos and videos are not allowed according to the indications of the place.
- Catacombs of Lima: Monday to Sunday 10.00h to 20.00h.
- San Francisco de Asis Church: Monday to Sunday 7.00h to 11.00h and 16.00h to 20.00h.
- General admission 10 soles.
- Students 5 soles.
- Children 1 sol.
- Plazuela San Francisco (Corner of Jirones, Ancash and Lampa), downtown Lima, Peru.
How to get there
- Guided tour: Recommended way to get there.
- Metropolitano de Lima: Union Station, when leaving you must follow the directions of the place.
- Private cab: The area has high traffic, so we recommend not to take a cab at midday or late afternoon.
- Main Square.
- Lima Cathedral.
- House of Literature of Lima.
- Government Palace of Peru.
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