Near Plaza Mayor is Santo Domingo, which is on the corner of Camaná and Conde de Superunda. This church was built in 1537 by the Dominicans and was remodeled in neoclassic style in the 19th century. At the end of the right nave is the Retablo de las Reliquias (Altar of the Relics), with the skulls of the three Peruvian Dominicans to reach sainthood. From left to right, they are San Martín de Porras, Santa Rosa, and San Juan Macias.
Next door is the attached convent (9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 3–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sun., US$3), with carved balconies around a patio, fountains covered with Seville tiles, and a library with colossal 17th-century choir books. This convent was the first location of America’s first university, San Marcos, and the balcony where students read their theses can still be seen in the Sala Capitular.
Also on the street Conde de Superunda is Palacio Osamblea (Superunda 298, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., free), a neoclassic, rose-colored home with five elegant balconies. It has been converted into a space for revolving exhibitions hosted by the Centro Cultural Garcilaso de la Vega.
Alameda Chabuca Grande is a new river-front public space, within a block of the Plaza Mayor, that is dedicated to one of Peru’s best-known musicians, whose creole music is famous worldwide. This used to be the sprawling Polvos Azules market, which was shut down by the government in 2000 and moved to its present location along the Vía Expresa. The space is now used by musicians and artists and is generally safe to walk around until 9 p.m., when the security guards go home.
The Río Rímac, brown with mud and clogged with plastic, tumbles by here. Across the river, the Rímac neighborhood was populated by mestizos and mulattos during colonial times. The large hill on the other side is Cerro San Cristóbal. Walk upriver along Ancash to Desamparados, Lima’s beautiful old station, which is being converted into a cultural center with revolving exhibits.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition