Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Peru circuit (Day 1) - Lima, Plaza San Martin and Plaza Mayor - The 25th of April 2013

The thrill of travelling to a far away country may eventually be affected by the long flying hours ahead, particularly when one has stop-overs along the way. Our flight to Madrid left at around 18H40 but we had to wander about Barajas International airport lounges for something like four hours before boarding the next flight to Lima, which we reached by early morning the following day.

Soon after having been welcomed at the airport by a guide (Luis) and joined by a couple we would be travelling with, we headed towards the city centre under the direction of Teresa, an accredited guide who then led us to Lima's Plaza San Martin followed by Plaza Mayor, where the colonial identity is still visible and undoubtedly in a remarkable way, though the very first impressions of the capital city were "obtained" through the bus window, as I attempted to take some photographs of the images that mostly impressed me.

As we reached Plaza San Martin, whose central monument represents the Argentine liberator José de San Martin crossing the Andes our tiredness was unexpectedly suppressed as its luminosity hit us.

In no time it filled itself with school boys and girls in brightly coloured uniforms, which added a distinct "touch" to the whole ensemble.

The fact that the capital city was established in a desert area with little stone available for construction didn't allow for great architectural flourishes, it is said. Balconies and doors were thus the almost exclusive exterior signs of luxury on the houses of that period, with 16th and 17th century designers having had to concentrate their utmost creative efforts on those elements, which were mostly made from wood.

Beautifully carved balconies suspended from thick ochre and white adobe walls inevitably caught everyone's attention, whichever side we looked at around the Plaza Mayor where we headed towards next.

The Headquarters of the Caretas magasine

 Marie Hélène and I with the Municipal Council in the background.

Lima's Cathedral, whose construction was initiated in 1541 had to go through several transformations and was consequently only completed in 1622. Following the 1746 great earthquake it had to undergo subsequent reconstruction works, though the original 16th century design is said to have been retained.

Detail of the Arshbishop's Palace (on the left)

What mostly impressed me though was Lima's Archbishop's Palace built by the Polish architect Ricardo Malachowski in 1924. Having been inspired by the Palace of Torre Tagle reproducing the latter's Moorish arches it is Neo-Colonial in style.

A side Chapel's doorway did also catch my particular attention for being a replica of the original work by a Portuguese master, Constantino de Vasconcelos, but I didn't manage to have it photographed due to sun related problems.

The Government Palace, better known as the house of Pizarro in a French Baroque architectural style is also located in the Plaza Mayor, imposing itself like many of the other buildings around the square.

(To be continued)

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