History of Lima, Peru

Prehispanic era

Although the history of the city of Lima begins with its Spanish foundation in 1535, the territory formed by the valleys of the Rímac, Chillón and Lurín rivers was occupied by pre-Inca settlements. The Maranga Culture and the Lima Culture were the ones that established and forged an identity in these territories. During those times the sanctuaries of Lati (current Puruchuco) and Pachacámac were built. These cultures were conquered by the Wari Empire during the height of its imperial expansion. It is during this time that the ceremonial center of Cajamarquilla was built. Faced with the decline in Wari importance, local cultures regained autonomy, highlighting the Chancay Culture. Later, in the 15th century, these territories were incorporated into the Inca Empire.

From this time we can find a great variety of huacas throughout the city, some of which are under investigation. The most important or known are those of Huallamarca, Pucllana, Mateo Salado and Pachacámac.

Period of Spanish domination

In 1532, the Spanish and their indigenous allies (of the ethnic groups subjected by the Incas) under the command of Francisco Pizarro took the Inca Atahualpa prisoner in the city of Cajamarca. (in the north of Peru). Although they received a very high ransom in gold, they decided to assassinate him in the same way. They traveled all over Peru from north to south. About 1,300 km south of Cajamarca, Pizarro occupied the Inca city of Hatún Shausha (280 km east of present-day Lima, on the Pacific Ocean coast), which was located in the widest valley of the entire Andean mountain range. He decided to make it the capital of the Government of Peru, and on April 25, 1534, Pizarro “founded” it in the heart of the city and gave it the name of “Santa Fe de Hatun Jauja” (he gave it that name because the The wealth of the city reminded him of the mythical city of Jauja – a mythological land in which it was not necessary to work because the rivers were made of wine and milk, the mountains of cheese and the trees hung piglets already roasted with a knife stuck in the loin, ready to be tasted. Pizarro and his men continued advancing towards the south, crossing the Mantaro river about 900 or 1000 km, until they conquered the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco.

The Spanish Crown appointed Francisco Pizarro governor of the lands it had conquered. When Pizarro learned of Pedro de Alvarado’s conquering expedition in Guatemala, he decided to found a new capital city of Peru, but on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. He left the city of Cusco for Jauja with a body of troops, leaving the garrison of this city in charge of 90 Castilians commanded by his brother Juan Pizarro.

The 6 of January of 1535, Pizarro decided to found a village, the City of Kings-for Day of the Epiphany of the Magi Kings, on a site strategically located in the valley of the Rimac River, just six miles (10 km) of the coast of the Pacific Ocean, favorable for the construction of a port (Callao) but prudently away from it so as to prevent attacks by pirates of foreign powers, almost at the same distance from Cuzco (1150 km) and Quito (1800 km), on fertile lands and with a convenient cool climate.

The 18 of January of 1535, Francisco Pizarro, with the collaboration of Nicolas de Rivera, Diego de Agüero and Francisco Quintero personally traced the Plaza de Armas and the rest of the grid of the city. He had his own house built (today transformed into the Government Palace of Peru, which preserves the traditional name of Casa de Pizarro) and laid with his hands the foundation stone of a chapel (where a century later the Cathedral of Lima would be built.

The original name of the new city was consigned to public documents: the city was called Lima, a name that would come from the Quechua rimaq, which means the one who speaks’ by virtue of the various oracles that existed in the place. With the activity that distinguished Pizarro, he began the first constructions, determined to establish his residence there.

In August 1536, the flourishing city was besieged by the troops of Manco Cápac II, but the Spanish and their indigenous allies managed to defeat them.

In the following years Lima gained prestige by being designated the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the seat of a Royal Audience in 1543. During the next century Lima prospered as the center of an extensive commercial network that integrated the viceroyalty with America, Europe and East Asia. But the city was not free from dangers; Violent earthquakes destroyed much of it in 1687. A second threat was the presence of pirates and corsairs in the Pacific Ocean, which led to the construction of the Lima Walls between 1684 and 1687. The 1687 earthquake marked a turning point. Inflection in the history of Lima, since it coincided with a recession in trade due to economic competition with other cities such as Buenos Aires.

In 1746 a strong earthquake severely damaged Lima and destroyed Callao, forcing a massive reconstruction effort by Viceroy José Antonio Manso de Velasco. In the second half of the 18th century, Enlightenment ideas about public health and social control influenced the development of the city. During this period, Lima was affected by the Bourbon Reforms as it lost its monopoly on foreign trade and its control over the important mining region of Upper Peru.. This economic weakening led the city’s elite to depend on the positions granted by the viceregal government and the Church, which contributed to keeping them more linked to the Crown than to the cause of independence.

History of Lima, Peru