Also known as Plaza de Armas, Lima's Plaza Mayor or main plaza has been the city's focal point since 1535. The main square of downtown Lima was constructed in the Spanish tradition and bordered by significant buildings on each side including Palacio del Gobierno (Presidential Palace), the Catedral de Lima and Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop's Palace), Municipalidad (City Hall) and Palacio de la Union.
Once the heart of colonial Lima, the 140sqm plaza has variously been the site of an open-air theatre, a bull-fighting arena, markets, the city gallows and where huge fires in the centre awaited the fate of those tried during the Spanish Inquisition. Many of the original buildings no longer stand here, except for the Cathedral of Lima, although the impressive and towering 1651 bronze water fountain still remains as the centrepiece of the square today. To the north of the plaza is the sprawling government palace, to the east - the Baroque Cathedral of Lima, the square's oldest building, and the adjoining Archbishop's Palace. South of the square are striking yellow-hued buildings, which house businesses, and to the west side is the impressive arched facade of City Hall. The majority of these buildings were erected during the early half of the 20th century.
Around the outer areas of the square are manicured lawns and sculptured flower gardens as well as tall palms and elegant lamp posts making this picturesque area a popular visitor destination and a pleasant area to wander around and enjoy the ambience and sights. At night the stately buildings with their wooded balconies are lit up imbuing the plaza with a romantic air. Other notable occurrences in the square include the proclamation of the Independence of Peru by José de San Martin in 1821. Don't miss the daily changing of the guard around 11:45am.
To get to Plaza Mayor/ Plaza de Armas, the closest metro station is Desamperados. From here, it's a five-minute walk down Jiron Carabaya and into Jiron Huallaga. The pedestrian mall of Jiron de la Union links Plaza Mayor with the other main square in Lima, Plaza San Martin.