The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a grand church that has withstood four earthquakes and numerous subsequent rebuilding and renovation works. The first edifice was a modest rustic church made of adobe that was begun in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and completed in 1538. After being designated a cathedral in 1541, the religious site underwent the first of many extensions and refurbishments in 1542.
The splendid example of Baroque architecture that stands in downtown Lima today is the third church on this site, which was completed in 1625. Earthquakes in 1609, 1687, 1746 and 1940 saw interior elements such as the vaults and pillars destroyed although the facade remained intact. The last major restoration was after the 1940 earthquake. The two Neoclassical towers with slate spires were completed in 1797 and modelled on northern European examples. The cathedral boasts 14 side chapels flanking its exterior, and several entrances on different streets including Calle de Judios (Street of the Jews) and Patio de los Naranjos (Square of the Orange Trees). The front facade has three large doorways including the main entrance dubbed Portada de Pérdon (Door of Forgiveness) surrounded by sculptures of the Apostles with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the centre.
Entry to the Cathedral of Lima is free, however admission to the small museum to view the religious art costs 10 soles for adults and 2 soles for minors, and includes a 40-minute tour. Within the interior of the cathedral, the central nave boasts vaulted ceilings with gilded accents and intricately carved choir stalls. The main altar was replaced in the early 19th century to a Neoclassical-style appointment. The valuable religious art includes sculptures, ancient paintings and ornaments now available for public view. Among the notable historic figures buried here is Francisco Pizarro, whose tomb lies within one of the chapels.
The Cathedral of Lima is located on the eastern side of the Plaza de Armas. To get here, the closest metro station is Desamperados and then it's a five-minute walk down Jiron Carabaya and into Jiron Huallaga.