Monday, September 2, 2013

Plaza Mayor, Lima, Peru

In the center of Lima is the lovely Plaza de Armas, also called Plaza Mayor, where in 1535 Francisco Pizarro founded the city which became the center of the Spanish empire in South America. It's said that in the colonial era this was the site of the market, bull pen, and executions.

No original buildings remain, due to earthquakes and fires, but this bronze fountain was erected in 1650 and serves as a perch for birds. The Cathedral is in the background.

The Cathedral sits on the site of the first church built here in 1535. It has been rebuilt in 1551, in 1622, and after earthquakes of 1687 and 1746. The last major restoration was in 1940.

Many of the buildings surrounding the plaza are painted a canary yellow, though the public buildings are not painted, such as the Cathedral, Archbishop's Palace, and Palacio del Gobierno.

The colonial architecture included these Moorish style balconies, where upper class women could see out but maintain privacy within.

The Palacio del Gobierno is where the president of Peru, Ollanta Humala, lives. Every day at noon there is a ceremonial changing of the guard, preceded by about 30 minutes of band music. The musicians parade up to the front gate, where they stand on a raised platform and perform. I recorded two short videos here: Video no. 1. Video no. 2.

During the changing of the guard and band concert, the streets around the Plaza are closed to traffic. Several armed police and soldiers are in place, and this horse patrol circles the Plaza.