Sunday, 8 August 2010

Discovering the district of Rimac

Last Saturday I had a walk in the district of Rimac, one of the more challenging parts of Lima, because of the decay, poverty and alleged unsafety. In order not to tempt fate the walk went from the Puente de Piedra through Jr. Trujillo with the smallest church of Lima, San José del Puente, then Jr. Chiclayo and through the alameda de los Descalzos to the convent of the Descalzos. After visiting the museum by taxi to huaca La Florida and by return taxi to the Plaza de Acho, to walk back to the Plaza de Armas via the Puente Ricardo Palma.

Surprising Franciscan convent
The Convent of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles commonly known as Descalzos is a surprise. A very quiet and well preserved convent, with a great collection of colonial paintings from the schools of Lima, Cuzco and Quito. It was used as a Franciscan monastery until 1979 and then turned into a museum for religious art. The present building dates from the middle of the 18th century, but the origin of the place goes back to 1595, when this was the first enclosed monastery in Peru. The informal name is the Convento de los Descalzos (barefoot). The Franciscan monks wore very simple sandals which led to the name. The convent has seven cloisters. One of the cloisters was in the 1980-ies decorated in the popular style of Ayachuco, which gives it a very pleasant appearance. The chapel dates from 1733 and has an impressive entrance, alabaster windows and an altar inlaid with mother of pearl.

Oldest temple in Lima completey neglected
With an age of 4,000 years the huaca La Florida is the oldest pre-Hispanic structure in the metropolitan area of Lima and as well the largest with a plaza 140,000 square meters. It is a so called U-shaped temple. Other U-shaped temples are Huacoy in Carabayllo and Garagay in San Martin de Porres. Those two are in a better shape than La Florida, although the plaza of Huacoy was last year divided in parcels to be sold of for urbanization. La Florida is completely surrounded by buildings and the plaza has been converted in the fields of Sporting Club Cristal. A wall protects the club from the main structure of the huaca. The guards of the club told it was unsafe to explore the huaca, as there was a ‘ lost city’ on top with drug addicts. There was nothing on top, everything was completely deserted. It is a neglected place. Pity.

Bullfighting in Lima
Originally the bull fights were held in the main square with temporary seating arragements. A special building, the Plaza de Toros de Acho, was constructed in 1766, during the reign of Viceroy Amat. It has the form of a 15-sided polygon with an arena with a diameter of 80 metres. In 1944 the diameter was reduced to 55 metres and the number of seats doubled. The season for bullfighting is from the end of October, the celebration of El Senor de los Milagros, to the end of November. There is a museum dedicated to bullfighting and mainly made up out of donations of the family Graña, important producers of cattle and the bulls. Fernando Graña Elizalde (1911-1982) not only raised the bulls for fighting on his hacienda Huando in Huaral, but also paso horses and fighting cocks. Together with Alejandro Graña Garland and José Antonio Roca Rey he took the concession of the bull fights in the Plaza de Acho for 20 years and they remodelled the building in 1944. The funny Arab inspired mirador de Ingunza, the only remains of the house of Francisco Esteban de Ingunza Basualdo (1808-1886) from 1858, makes an interesting combination.

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