Lima is a city that is saturated in history. And yet, while modern developments have been built up over the old, there is one corner of the city where Lima’s complex history is preserved: the Presbitero Maestro Cemetery.
The Presbitero Maestro Cemetery, which was commissioned by Viceroy Fernando de Abascal, was built by Matías Maestro between 1805 and 1808, and was the first municipal cemetery in Latin America. In addition, it is a 2006 World Monuments Watch Site. While the cemetery has survived a lack of maintenance over the years, as well as multiple earthquakes, it still faces the threat of pollution which slowly degrades the cherished monuments.
If you’re looking for a spooky yet educational activity for the family, a visit to this cemetery museum should be top on your list. The cemetery is the final resting place of many important historical figures that have left their mark on Peru, such as presidents, political and religious leaders, artists, and Matías Maestro himself. Moreover, the cemetery showcases numerous gorgeous examples of neoclassical art and architecture in the 19th century mausoleums and European marble sculptures. For that reason, the Presbitero Maestro Cemetery is a must-see attraction for history buffs and architecture fanatics alike.
This impressive and beautiful site is always open for visitation during the day. However, if you want a truly eerie experience, some tour operators, such as Inca World, offer immersive night tours that include an entry ticket, transport, and knowledgeable guide. To walk around 200 year old tombs, monuments, sculptures, and murals by moonlight is an experience you won’t easily forget.
Highlights of the tour include the areas reserved for suicides and suspected witches, as well as the Crypt of Heroes – a massive and ornately decorated tomb that was designed to honor and remember those brave Peruvians who fought and died on the battlefields during the War of Independence and the War of the Pacific. The tour takes about three and a half hours and requires much walking as you explore the extensive grounds.
A visit to the Presbitero Maestro Cemetery is like taking a trip back in time. But for those who believe in the supernatural, a night tour is not for the faint of heart. However, while the stories and history that linger among the graves may seem spooky, the cemetery really serves as a quiet corner of peace in the midst of bustling Lima.