Cathedral Basilica of Lima

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Lima Cathedral
Catedral de Lima 2015.jpg
Lima Cathedral
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusBasilica
LeadershipArchbishop of Lima
LocationLima District, Lima, Peru
Geographic coordinates12°02′47.30″S 77°01′48.13″W / 12.0464722°S 77.0300361°W / -12.0464722; -77.0300361Coordinates: 12°02′47.30″S 77°01′48.13″W / 12.0464722°S 77.0300361°W / -12.0464722; -77.0300361

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima, otherwise Lima Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor of downtown Lima, Peru. Construction began in 1535 and completed in 1649. It is dedicated to St John, Apostle and Evangelist.


The nave of the Cathedral.
Main facade Portada del Perdón
Lima Cathedral, by night
Francisco Pizarro's tomb

In keeping with the majority of cathedrals the front facade has three large doorways. The main or central gateway is called the Portada del Perdón or the "door of forgiveness". Above the doorway is the Peruvian seal and the phrase "Plus Ultra" rather than Lima's coat-of-arms. The two high towers with spire of slate, are neoclassical with stylistic influences of the school "El Escorial" and of northern Europe.

There are 14 side chapels, one of which opens on to Calle de Judíos (Street of the Jews) and another on to the Patio de los Naranjos (Square of the Orange Trees, connected to the Cathedral). At the rear are two more entrances: Santa Apolonia and San Cristóbal. Set on the front facade are sculptures of the Apostles and in the middle, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Adjoining the Cathedral are the Parroquia del Sagrario (one of the oldest ones in Lima) and the Archbishop's Palace.

Inside, along the side aisles, are a sequence of large paintings of the Via Crucis, "Way of the Cross." Pope John Paul II visited this cathedral on two occasions, in 1985 and 1988. This is commemorated with signs at the entrance.

In the left aisle, the first chapel holds the ancient baptistery. Here can be seen a beautiful image of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, who presides over the events during Cuaresm and Holy Week. During a recent restoration, ancient pictures were found in this chapel that have been restored and are displayed again for the public.

The next chapel is Capilla de la Sagrada Familia (chapel of the Holy Family), featuring figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is also home to the tomb of Francisco Pizarro


Sculpture of St. Matthew on the front facade

The following chronological data is based on the work of the priest and art historian Antonio San Cristóbal.[1]

  • January 18, 1535: The conquistador Francisco Pizarro laid the first stone, carrying on his shoulders the first log used in the construction of the Cathedral. The chosen location was between the Main Plaza and the Street of the Jews (Calle de Judíos, in Spanish).
  • 1538: The construction of the first church was completed. It was mainly built of adobe, and was relatively primitive, small and rustic.
  • March 11, 1540: The church was officially inaugurated by Francisco Pizarro.
  • May 14, 1541: A papal bull of Pope Paul III, Illius Fulciti Praesidio, designated the church a Cathedral, by creating the diocese of the City of the Kings, as Lima was then called. The Cathedral became part of the assigned diocese of Saint John the Evangelist ("San Juan Evangelista" in Spanish) and ceased to depend on Cusco.
  • 1542: The cathedral underwent several improvements and minor extensions, paid for by García de Salcedo.
  • September 17, 1543: Bishop Jerónimo de Loayza signed the "Lima Cathedral Construction Act" and selected its council.
  • February 12, 1546: The church was upgraded to a Metropolitan Church, and "The Kings" became an Archdiocese. This was done by the papal bull Super Universa Orbis of Pope Paul III.
  • 1551: Inauguration of the second Cathedral by Archbishop Jerónimo de Loayza.
  • 1564: Archbishop Jerónimo de Loayza assigned the task of redesigning the Cathedral to Alonso Beltrán, with instructions to base his design on the Cathedral of Seville in Spain.
  • 1572: Work on the third Cathedral began with the demolition of the adobe walls of the second cathedral, but the project was quickly abandoned because of the high cost.
  • 1598: The Renaissance architect Francisco Becerra reduced the plans to 3 aisles, plus 2 chapels. Work on the third Cathedral began again.
  • February 2, 1604: Archbishop Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo inaugurated the first part of the third Cathedral.
  • 1609: An earthquake destroyed the vaults of the recently built structure.
  • 1614–1615: The old Renaissance vaults were rebuilt at a lower height in a Gothic style.
  • August 15, 1622: First Mass in the finished third Cathedral.
  • October 19, 1625: Archbishop Gonzalo de Ocampo consecrated the third Lima Cathedral.
  • 1626: Juan Martínez de Arona and Pedro de Noguera designed the main portal, which still exists today in this form.
  • 1687: An earthquake destroyed the vaults of the Cathedral.
  • December 7, 1697: Reconstruction of the Cathedral finished and it was officially inaugurated.
  • 1732: Two additional portals were added.
  • José de Orejón y Aparicio
  • 1746: An earthquake destroyed many vaults and pillars.
  • May 29, 1755: The first part of the rebuilt Cathedral was inaugurated.
  • December 8, 1758: The second part of the rebuilt Cathedral was inaugurated.
  • December 8, 1778: Archbishop Diego Antonio de Parada inaugurated the renovated interior of the Cathedral.
  • 1794–1797: Construction of the current towers of the Cathedral, designed by the architect Ignacio Martorell.
  • January 17, 1893: The Cathedral was closed because it was in disrepair and in dire need of restoration.
  • January 7, 1896: Internal renovation was begun.
  • January 6, 1898: Inauguration of renovated Cathedral.
  • 1940: Earthquake. Restoration by Emilio Harth-Terré.
  • 2005: New lights were installed.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ (in Spanish) Arzobispado de Lima, Catedral de Lima Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved February 15, 2008

External links[edit]