This month, Expat Peru is continuing our tour of Lima’s 43 districts with a look at Magdalena del Mar. Called simply “Magdalena” by most, this seaside district sits just to the south of Pueblo Libre and Jesus Maria, with San Isidro to its east, San Miguel to the west and the Pacific Ocean on its south edge. The district covers 3.61 km2 and has a population of approximately 53000 according to the 2002 census. The district was officially created on May 10, 1920, and named Magdalena del Mar after Mary Magdalene. Despite that, there is still some dispute over the exact border on the eastern side of the district; the conflict with San Isidro has been going on for over 50 years.
Magdalena is probably best known for two things: The looming statue of Mary that watches over traffic along the coast and for its massive market, one of the largest and most complete in Lima. The monument to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was inaugurated in July of 1996 and is located on Av. Sucre. The statue itself is 6.5 meters, atop a pillar of 12 meters, and stands looking off to the direction of Av. Brazil.
Apart from that, the district is mostly residential. The border with San Isidro tends to be more expensive and upper middle class while as you move closer to the northern borders, you’ll find less expensive housing. It is very much a melting pot of the wealth of San Isidro and the more working class districts that surround it.
However, there are a few points of interest if you know where to look:
Temple de Corazon de Maria – This beautiful temple was built in the 1950s, and is known for it’s height and architectural design which lend it both artistic and cultural value. The statue of Mary at the end of Av. Brazil was initially planned for the top of the church, but in the end a different (taller but lighter) figure of the saint was used.
Huaca Huantille – This archeological monument is the only one of its type in Magdalena. It was built in Lima’s late intermediate period, around the same time as the huacas in the Parque de los Leyendas. For many years, the huaca was in a state of neglect and was actually being lived in by several families in very poor conditions. It also was a center of crime and drug abuse. In recent years, however, it has been cleaned up and is becoming an important site, with artistic and cultural activities held there. The district is looking into building a small museum on the site, and building it into a more tourist friendly attraction.
Malecones – Magdalena has several malecones that provide an extraordinary view of the bay of Lima and its coastline. On a clear day, one can see from La Punta in Callao (including the islands of San Lorenzo and El Fronton) in the north all the way to the Morro Solar in Chorrillos to the south.