The Church and Convent of San Francisco is besides the Cathedral of Lima probably the most significant religious complex in Lima and the most successful and impressive monument of Colonial architecture in whole Latin America. One of the "must-do's" in Lima is a highly recommended tour through the monastery. It gives an impressive inside on how religious life was during Spanish colonial times.
Coming into the monastery at the side portal of the building you enter a completely different world showing the importance of the Catholic church in Colonial times. Absolutely amazing are the beautiful preserved wooden stairs, the impressive Moorish dome over the main staircase, the outstanding library with over 25,000 volumes, the "Zurbarán - Hall", small chapels, distinctive religious paintings, small patios of typical Spanish style decorated with lovely tiles from Seville and the overwhelming former glory and wealth.
Definitely the absolute highlight of the tour is the descent into the convents catacombs that served until 1808 as a burial ground. An estimated 30,000 deceased are buried here. Quite extraordinary: the monks arranged the remains according to bone types. Absolutely worth seeing!
Guided tours are available in Spanish and English and take around 1 1/2 hours.