Top places to see in Magdalena del Mar, Lima: San Francisco church and its monastery are most famous for their catacombs containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima’s first cemetery. Below the church is a maze of narrow hallways, each lined on both sides with bones. In one area, a large round hole is filled with bones and skulls arranged in a geometrical pattern, like a piece of art. If Mass is in progress upstairs, the sound reverberates eerily through the catacombs. Visiting these is not for those who are claustrophobic, as ceilings are low and doorways between chambers are even lower, requiring people to duck when entering. But the catacombs are at the end of a tour of the church, so you can skip them. There is much more to see here. The library, on the upper level, has thousands of antique books, and the monastery has an impressive collection of religious art. It is best known for a mural of the Last Supper showing the apostles dining on guinea pig, with a devil standing next to Judas. The San Francisco church and monastery were consecrated in 1673 and it is one of the city’s best preserved colonial churches, having withstood the earthquakes of 1687 and 1746, although it did suffer extensive damage in a quake in 1970.
Underneath Lima’s San Francisco de Lima Basilica and Convent lies the burial site of over 25,000 bodies. The site was used as a burial ground until 1808. Tours of the underground catacombs are offered daily for around $7. This cemetery-turned-museum offers visitors a glimpse into Peruvian history and, in one notable mausoleum, pays homage to those men and women who served their country in the War of the Pacific. This area is where you’ll find Lima’s most breathtaking colonial architecture. Francisco Pizarro established the city’s central square in the 16th century to serve as the capital of colonial South America. Not one building remains from that period, but the area is nonetheless stunning.
There are plenty of excellent art museums in Lima, with the most famous being the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), located on the northern edge of the Parque de la Exposicion and hosting objects covering 3,000 years of history, including a superb collection of religious paintings from the Cusquena School. Further south in Barranco, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Lima (MAC Lima) is a good place to sink your teeth into modern and contemporary art. Look out for evening events (En Lima has a list of what’s happening in Lima’s museums) where you can sometimes meet the artists. Don’t miss the nearby MATE, Museo Mario Testino, where spacious rooms are filled with the work of the acclaimed photographer, who rose to fame with his portraits of her Royal Highness, Princess Diana.
Iglesia Inmaculada Corazon de Maria (corner of Sucre and 28 de Julio) is the neighborhood’s main landmark. The church’s unique 5-story teal and pink dome is visible from most of the neighborhood, especially at night when the church’s facade is brightly lit. It is topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary by Ariquepeno artist Freddy Luque Sonco. Magdalena’s Malecon is a work in progress, and although it’s not as beautiful as Miraflores’, it can be a pleasant place for a walk in the sunset—just avoid young necking couples and the kids on bikes, as it seems to be a popular place to go when you’re learning to lose the training wheels (take that how you will). Discover extra images of this amazing ocean view penthouse on FB. Need a place to rent in Lima, Peru? Explore more info on Amazing Penthouse in Lima, Peru.
The Museo Larco is a must-see for travelers interested in pre-Columbian art. The private museum, founded by Rafael Larco Herrera, is located in an 18th century building that was built over a seventh century pyramid. The museum’s collections, representing 5,000 years of Peruvian history, are arranged chronologically. The museum’s total collection numbers thousands of pieces. It is especially famous for its collection of pre-Columbian erotic pottery, which includes humans performing sex acts not only with each other but with gods and the dead. Equally impressive is the Gold and Silver Gallery, which includes objects such as funeral masks and jewelry worn by priests and rulers.