Lima Catacombs

The San Francisco Catacombs

Useful Information

Location: San Francisco Church, Plaza de Armas, Lima.
Open: All year daily 9:30-17:30.
Fee: Adults PEN 5, Children PEN 1, Students PEN 2.50.
Classification: SubterraneaCatacomb
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Address: The San Francisco Catacombs, Plazuela San Francisco, Esquina Jirónes, Ancash y Lampa, Central Lima, Lima, Tel: 51-1-426-7377, Tel: 51-1-427-1381-111, Fax: 51-1-427-4831. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Lima Catacombs are located at the San Francisco Church at Plaza de Armas in downtown Lima. The church was built in the 17th century as a Baroque church, decorated with wood carvings, faience tiles, and ornate moldings. Actually the people had some morbid habits during the Baroque, and there are many baroque churches which are decorated with an abundant amount of skelettons and skulls made marble and other fine materials. However, the catacombs of Lima were not a result of the time, they simply started as a graveyard for the deceased church members. They were buried in normal graves, but space was limited, and after a few years the skulls and bones were removed by a church official and thrown into a deep pit. After a while the place became the last rest of Lima's public. Today the remains of some 25,000 people are stored at the catacombs. But several experts claim that the number of deceased here is actually closer to 70,000.

The crypt is the dumping place of bones and was actually not open. The bones were just thrown in until 1808, when the city cemetery was opened outside Lima. In 1943 the place was opened and excavated by archaeologists. Some archeologist thought that the Catacombs would have more appeal with the human bones arranged artistically. Thats how the catacombs got their current shape, with skulls placed together in a center pile, with same length arm bones radiating outward, and matching leg bones extending beyond the arms. The arrangement of bones is not special, but here it was not a normal habit of the people.