This month, we continue our trip around Lima with a stop in Breña, another of the 43 districts that comprise metropolitan Lima. Breña is one of the smallest districts in Lima – only nearby Lince is smaller. Despite it’s small size, Breña is one of the most heavily populated districts, with over 25000 people per km2. The district is very centrally located, very close to the historic city center of Lima.
In the pre-Hispanic time, this area would have been part of the chiefdom of Ichma, centered in Pachacamac, which extended from the river and the Rimac valley of Lurin. Near the northern boundery was the Macatambo complex, a huaca associated with the Maranga or Lima culture. However, this huaca disappeared during the 1940s because of urban development. There were several other huacas around the district, but as the area developed they were all lost.
City plans from 1904 show a “Hacienda Breña” near what is now Ave. Brazil, and this is where the district gets it’s name. The district was formally founded in July of 1949, and was intended to be an industrial area. Peru was in relative prosperity after WW2 and the Korean War, which led to planning for industry and housing complexes for workers. However, the second half of the 20th centery did not live up to these expectations. And a mere decade after being founded the district lost a good portion of it’s area to the Cercado of Lima. With the loss of land came a loss in tax revenues and these days, much of the district is sadly in disrepair.
Being mostly industrial and governmental, Breña isn’t a place where many tourists end up, despite its proximity to the city center. However, many expats do eventually pay at least a few visits to the district, as the immigration offices (DIGEMIN) are found there on Av. Espana. With Peru’s current economic resurgence, the district is showing signs of improvement but much of it is still considered unsafe.