Main Square of Lima Peru — How to get there? — Plaza de Armas

1. History

Main Square of Lima — When Francisco Pizarro arrived in the Rímac valley and re-founded this city, he did so following the Ordinances for the foundation of cities in the new world, dictated by Carlos I of Spain—King of Spain.

In this ordinance, it is pointed out that, first a layout of the future city had to be made, with a string and a ruler in a square-shape (like a chessboard), always starting from the Plaza de Armas; In conclusion, Lima as a European city was born at the Plaza de Armas.

After the foundation of Lima in 1535, having Plaza de Armas as a point of origin, the most important buildings of the colonial period were built around it, some of these constructions and sculptures still exist today, such as: La Casa del Oidor, the Cathedral and the water fountain; the other constructions like the Presidential Palace, the City Hall Palace and others date from the republican period (after 1821).

During the viceregal period, the main square worked as an open-air market, bullring and a place of execution for those convicted for political and religious reasons.

2. Description of the Plaza de Armas today

The Plaza de Armas in Lima is the oldest spot, the founding plaza and the core of urban life; it is almost an obligatory tourist point to visit by travelers.

Plaza de Armas Lima
Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor de Lima

It is surrounded by colonial and republican buildings, such as: the Cathedral of San Juan de Lima, the Casa de Pizarro, the Palace of Club de la Unión, etc. In the central part of this plaza there is a beautiful colonial water fountain from the mid-17th century.

The water fountain is located at 160 meters above sea level, it was also known as the “Zero” kilometer” a few decades ago, because it was the starting point for measuring the kilometers and put the sings alongside the roads.   

3. Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor?

In Spain, the main squares are named Plaza Mayor, why are they called Plaza de Armas in Lima, in Manila, in Santiago de Chile and other cities. The re-founders of Lima were Spaniards and the main square should have been names as Plaza Mayor, as it is in Spain.

There are no Plaza de Armas in Spain, this is because the Catholic kings of Spain: Fernando and Isabel, gave an ordinance in 1480, so that the main squares of the cities are called Plaza Mayor.

Ricardo Palma in his book Tradiciones Peruanas—Peruvian Traditions, mentioned the main square 49 times, out from it 48 times he mentioned as Plaza Mayor and only one time as Plaza de Armas; there is also a book with the Spanish title of Lima, paseos por la ciudad y su historia by the Editorial Nacional SA, on page 29, clearly indicates that the first name of the main square and the name that was used throughout the colonial period was Plaza Mayor.

So now, you know that naming the main square as Plaza de Armas is not the right thing to do, according to historical documents. In the early 19th century, when libertarian movements in South America expanded, soldiers or militias from both sides (pro-Spain and pro-republicans), began to use the Plaza Mayor as a meeting point for gatherings, parades, making proclamations in favor of their cause, etc. Little by little turning the word Plaza de Armas into the name of the Plaza Mayor

4. Location

It is located in the historic center of Lima, crossed by the following streets: Jirón de la Unión, Jirón Carabaya, Jirón Junín and Jirón Huallaga.

5. Schedules

The main square is open to the public 24 hours a day, it is freely accessible; the best time to visit it is when there are festivities that take place in the Plaza de Armas of Lima.

On the National Day of Pisco(celebrated every last Sunday of the month of July of each year), the running water from the Water Fountain at Plaza de Armas is literally replaced by Pisco— the water fountain turns into Pisco fountain and it is completely free to get some Pisco.

6. Price

This place is 100% free.

7. What to do in the Plaza de Armas? Activities

7.1 On you own

If you are in the Plaza de Armas of Lima, you can visit the following buildings:

  1. Government Palace of Peru
  2. The Cathedral of Lima
  3. The Archbishop’s Palace
  4. The City Hall
  5. El Club de la Unión—republican palace
  6. Jirón de la Unión—colonial street
  7. La Casa del Oidor—colonial building
  8. Plaza Peru

7.2 Book the Lima FREE Tour

Join our best free walking tour in Lima organized by a pioneering company, 100% local guides, book on free tour Lima, see our awesome reviews on free walking tours Lima reviews, and don’t forget to leave some tip to your guide at the end of the tour. You can also follow us on Instagram.

Nota para peruanos: Los free tours por el momento son solamente para el turismo receptivo; sin embargo puedes realizar el city tour clásico del Lima colonial y moderna.

To Consider: The Plaza de Arma de Lima is not our meeting point, please visit our website to see all the details.

8. Changing of the Guard at the Plaza de Armas

Try to be in the Plaza de Armas at noon, so you can witness El Cambio de Guardia—the changing of the guard, which takes place every day, although sometimes they are suspended without prior notice.

Plaza de Armas Lima
Cambio de Guardia

The changing of the guard is carried out by the military corps in the courtyard of honor of the Presidential Palace of Peru, for more information visit, all about the changing of the guard.

9. Restaurants in the Plaza de Armas

If you are in the center of Lima and you want to try Lima’s gastronomy, we recommend the following restaurants:

  • Visit Gordon Blue, this is a clean, delicious and cheap restaurant, the price ranges from 10 to 15 Soles—(3 to 5 USD).
  • Visit Perú Gormet, this restaurant is standard for tourists, prices vary between 35 to 70 Soles—(10 to 20 USD).

10. Bars in the Plaza de Armas

  • Visit the oldest bar in Lima—Bar Cordano.
  • Visit the bar of Maury Hotel in Lima, Pisco Sour was created in the bar of this hotel in the 20th century.

11. How to get to there?

11.1 From Miraflores

If you are in Miraflores, look for the Metro-Bus—Metropolitano (we suggest going to Ricardo Palma station), get on line C, heading Miraflores to Lima center, please get off at Jirón de la Unión station and walk for about 5 minutes until you reach the Plaza de Armas. To use this service you need to pay 2.50 soles pp—before entering the bus station, there is a control booth, where you can ask for more information.

Note: If you are in Miraflores, you can also join our Lima free tour leaving from Miraflores, we will help you with all the details.

11.2 From Barranco

If you are in Barranco, look for the Metro-Bus—Metropolitano (we suggest going to Bulevar station), get on line C, heading Barranco to Lima center, please get off at Jirón de la Unión station and walk for about 5 minutes, until you reach the Plaza de Armas. To use this service you need to pay 2.50 soles pp—before entering the bus station, there is a control booth, where you can ask for more information.

11.3 From other districts

If you are in a different place, take a taxi or uber, we suggest you haggle the price of the taxi fare, don’t be afraid, haggling in Peru is part of our culture.

12. Nearby places

  • Shopping malls: Saga Falabella, Ripley.
  • Banks and ATM’s: BBVA y BCP.
  • Free Walking Tour Lima.

13. Pictures of Attractions around the Plaza de Armas