The Archbishop’s Palace
There is another baroque building sharing the city block on which the Cathedral of Lima sits. It is the Archbishop’s Palace Lima, and it serves as the administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lima. Two ornate cedar wood balcony enclosures stick off the front of the building; they are its most distinguishing feature. While it appears to be a very old building — at least as old as the cathedral next door — it actually opened less than 100 years ago, in 1924.
The statue at the top of the center section of the palace is of Saint Toribio of Mongrovejo, the second Archbishop of Lima. He is also the subject of a very large painting inside the palace, which our tour guide pointed out to us:
About Toribio of Mongrovejo
He is considered the most important religious leader in Peruvian history, serving as Archbishop from 1579 until his death in 1606. Our guide told us that he did not just sit in Lima and preside over church matters from there. Instead, he went out among the people, walking hundreds of miles to meet and convert Peruvians to the Catholic faith. During his travels, he faced storms, wild beasts, tropical heat, fevers, and sometimes threats from hostile tribes.
He learned local dialects so that he could communicate with — and convert — the native peoples, and he was a strong and effective champion of their rights. He was responsible for baptizing and confirming nearly a half million souls, among them St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. He built roads, schoolhouses and chapels, many hospitals and convents, and at Lima, in 1591, founded the first seminary in the western hemisphere.
Our guide pointed out this golden reliquary, which contains relics of three saints. The item on the left is a piece of Saint Francis Solano’s skeleton. The item on the right is a bone from a finger of Saint Rose of Lima. The larger item in the center is a finger of Saint Toribio.
The First Floor
From there we saw several rooms of the Archbishop’s Palace Lima which were nicely furnished and almost always had artwork in them. For instance, this was the dining room:
Then we saw some rooms that were display areas for more artwork, such as this figure of “Our Lady of Sorrow.”
The Second Floor
After our guide pointed out items of interest, she led us up to the second floor. The rooms of the Archbishop’s Palace Lima line the perimeter of the building, with a grand, red-carpeted staircase in the center. Looking up as we climbed the stairs, I noticed a stained glass ceiling above us. It was just beautiful!
The upstairs contained more official rooms — offices, meeting areas, and the like. The salon, located on the front of the Archbishop’s Palace Lima, is where the Archbishop would have held meetings with visiting dignitaries. It is also the room from which the balconies would be accessed.
In addition to the wood balconies, there is another balcony on the front of the building from which the Archbishop would look out upon the Plaza de Armas. We were not allowed to enter, but the small glimpse that I could see offered a great view. Just imagine the Plaza de Armas below, bustling with people, and the national band playing during the changing of the guard each day at 11:00 AM.
When we left the salon, we stepped out to this amazing view:
So much symmetry and beauty — I don’t think I would ever tire of seeing that! As you can see, there are more steps directly across from the salon. They lead to the chapel:
The chapel was as big as some country churches in the United States — but after touring the vast open space of the Cathedral next door, it seemed quite small in comparison. A statue of Jesus carrying the cross was on the left. To the right were some kneelers and two angel statues. It was a very beautiful, peaceful space.
The Archbishop’s Palace, along with the Cathedral of Lima and its Museum of Religious Art, are a wonderful way to spend a few hours exploring the center of Lima.
The Archbishop’s Palace is on Lima’s Plaza de Armas, Jirón Carabaya, Cercado de Lima 15001. It is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Closed on Sundays. Telephone: +51 1 4275790.