One of the key factors in UNESCOs designation of the center of Lima as a World Heritage Site is the profusion of ornate balconies that brings to the city center a sense of harmony and beauty. These balconies not only bring light and air to the graceful homes of the city, they are also a window into the history of the country.

The noble and wealthy European immigrants who arrived in the capital built their houses with similar styles to the Spanish and Moorish architecture of their roots. In North Africa and the Middle East it was not culturally acceptable for women to walk out in the streets. The balcony provided fresh air and warmth as well as protection from the rain while women of nobility and wealth could discreetly observe the comings and goings of the city without leaving their homes.

The luxury and ostentation of these beautiful balconies are unique, never repeating the same pattern. While some balconies are open and without enclosures, others are closed or built into corners. Many were built with trusses that contributed to the passage of light and air, while offering the necessary privacy to prying eyes from the street.

Many balconies in Lima were built in the Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Baroque and Neoclassical styles and had Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Moorish, Andalusian and Caribbean influences. The Renaissance idea that the nobility of a building characterized a city’s grandiosity permeates Lima’s architecture. The Baroque architecture of this period, characterized by exuberance and heavy ornamentation, is prevalent as well. In the 18th century, the Rococo style came to Lima as a result of French influence. This style embraced ornamentation and playful themes.

Our own interest and enthusiasm led us to inquire at one lovely building if we might have a closer look. Our impertinence was rewarded with a personal guided tour that ended at a rooftop cupola. We were delighted to find a nesting condor in this space who didn’t seem to mind sharing his view of the entire city!