Journal Notes

Lima is the capital of Peru and it is located in South America. During the colonial period Lima assigned a role of primary importance to convents in social and cultural life. Their impact on urban life appears as a constant historical phenomenon. Lima was founded in 1535 and was called "the City of Kings". Its function was to consolidate the process of Spanish dominion in the vast South American territory. As a matter of fact, when Lima was established as the capital of the Viceroyalty in Peru, its jurisdiction included extensive regions which went even beyond the limits of the ancient Inca Empire.

The new city concentrated all relations of the Spanish metropolis, thus establishing itself as the center of political, economic and cultural activities of the Viceroyalty.

The image of the European royal court in Lima was reflected in city planning where the "Plaza Mayor" (Main Square) symbolized the merger of civil and religious functions as the expression of social and cultural life in the city.

About the core as a starting point, administrative and residential areas were then laid out which in turn were linked to the large convents of the religious orders, determining the urban profile of the vicinity. The convents, in addition to their evangelization mission, assumed a variety of functions in the colonial society -education and social work, for example- consolidating the nuclei of cultural influence in that period.

Originally, the Convent of San Francisco, subject of this journal, was assigned a place near Santo Domingo, but subsequently the Marquis Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of Peru, granted a larger area closer to the Rimac river, which crossed the city. Where there would be streets from where one might enjoy the view.

Nevertheless, early efforts in this respect were not easy construction was postponed due to the lack of human and economic resources. Moreover, the lands assigned to the Convent were occupied by neighboring Spaniards, resulting in a lawsuit to obtain restitution.

In 1546, Friar Francisco of Santa Ana was finally able to crystallize the actual founding in representation of the Custodian of the Province of Quito, the Franciscan Friar Jadocko Ricke, whose deeds were memorable in the Andean region.

The available land had an area equivalent to eight "solares" starting from the boundaries to the property of Marquis Pizarro and extending downstream. Indeed, part of the lands were recovered only in 1550.

When the construction of the Convent of San Francisco started, religious callings also increased. It was therefore necessary to obtain new urban lands, a process initiated through the acquisition of the old Pizarro orchard from Juan Baez in 1559.

The "Cabildo" (Municipality) of Lima granted to the Franciscans the public street between both properties on the condition that it be kept open until another "royal street" was built with access to the river.

Later, in 1609 Fernando de Tejada donated "solares" along the river, close to the infirmary, and in 1652, the "Cabildo" granted an extension of 4.2 feet for a street behing the Soledad chapel. Even though this great expansion of urban areas was consolidated in the middle of the 17th century, it benefitted from a few small additions in the course of the 18th century, and above all, was subjected to some changes in their use during the 19th.

The Temple of San Francisco constitutes a very important place that any tourist must visit in Lima. There you can find a vast artistic and cultural heritage, cultural goods, real estate and chattles which lend testimony to the various societal manifestations throughout history. The convents passively accumulated diverse expressions of European and American art, thus acquiring their own cultural identity. They constitute tangible developments and reveal their historical background. Don't hesitate to take a walk downtown Lima and visit this important historical temple.

Written by: Rocio Elizabeth Zegarra Torres (Lima, Peru).

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