Lima is full of architectural splendors, more so when it comes to its centuries old churches. The history of the magnificent Church and Convent of San Francisco goes back to more than 400 years. You not only get awestruck looking at the edifice, but get to learn and explore a lot about clerical orders and colonial art forms of Peru.
It is easy to spot the bell-towers of the Church that clearly define the skyline of central Lima. The Spanish baroque yellow façade welcomes you delightfully when you enter Ancash in central Lima. It was designed in the second half of the 17th century. The construction completed around 1774. The structure miraculously survived severe earthquakes over centuries while the city suffered major damages. It shows how sturdy the building is.
The minute you step in through the giant wooden door, it takes you through richly decorated colonial church adorned with plenty of statues on both sides. One look at the church ceiling gives you a reason to admire Mudejar art, a style native and unique to the history of Spain. Interestingly, this style represents the blending of Christianity and Islamic art forms. The impressive high altar designed by a renowned Spanish architect, Matias Maestro is a masterpiece of neo-classical style.
The convent is well-known for its library. The library contains thousands of antique texts, books, paintings of Biblical patriarch Jacob. Originally containing seven cloisters including the main courtyard, a small part of the convent was separated from the main structure to be used by Franciscan Third Order in 1940.
The passages and underground chambers served as a burial place for members of the Church. The practice of burying stopped in the early 19th century and since then it became a major attraction of this complex. A huge number of skulls arranged in geometrical patterns give you a bone chilling experience.
Gardens surrounding the complex
The church is guarded by well-kept gardens and huge corridors. The walls of the corridors are embellished with Sevillian tiles dating back to 1620. During restoration work, they also found layers of frescoes under the painted walls. One such fresco portrays the life of St. Francis of Assisi.