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Like its inhabitants, Lima, the city of kings, is a rare and exciting mix of nationalities, styles and forms. While other major cities in the Americas and around the world strive for modernity, the urban landscape of Lima maintains the age-old texture of its rich tradition.
The original city center, the old quarter of the city originally mapped out by Spanish Conqueror Francisco Pizarro - called el damero de Pizarro due to the classic geometric form found in other old Spanish colonial cities- is today a UNESCO Mankind Heritage Site. The streets of Lima have preserved the venerable beauty of the city's original colonial architecture, and a tour through old Lima is a chance to delve into more than four centuries of living history, peeking through the doorways of gracious manors and striding through sunlit patios and Baroque balconies.
The city, founded in 1535 by Pizarro, features a series of buildings which boast an incalculable architectural and historical value, buildings which fringe the main square, the Plaza Mayor and line nearby streets. Lima's Cathedral, built in 1625 in a Renaissance-Baroque style, with splendid Churriguerra altars, is definitely the first stop on the tour.
However, other buildings are also not to be missed, like the San Francisco church, whose cloisters and patios are decorated with Seville mosaic tiles which are the ideal picture frame for the religious art kept there. There is also the convent of Santo Domingo, which in 1551 saw the founding of San Marcos University, the oldest university in the Americas.
The old Palacio de Torre Tagle, a palace built in 1730, is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture in Lima, fitted with carved wooden balconies and its Baroque stone gateway. The Riva Agüero and Aliaga mansions, the traditional Acho bullring, and the revamped riverside promenades overlooking the Rimac River round off the traditional Lima landscape, which without a doubt is one of the most interesting circuits of its kind in Latin America.
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