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Past Watch Site
ALAMEDA DE LOS DESCALZOS AND PASEO DE AGUAS
Rímac, Lima, Peru
The Alameda de los Descalzos and Paseo de Aguas are two unique urban open spaces in the Rímac district of historic Lima. They were first constructed in 1611 and 1770 respectively, the former by Viceroy Juan de Mendoza y Luna, Marquis of Montesclaros, and the latter by Viceroy Manuel de Amat y Juniet, to win over his lover, the actress Micaela Villegas, better known as La Perricholi.
Rímac became a must-see destination of the time, as these open landscapes—among the first and largest designed recreational spaces of Lima and in the Americas—were renowned for their beauty, reflecting international influences and a period of flourishing for the capital of Peru. In 1856, the whole area was given a new and final design, with the installation of a wrought-iron fence imported from England, as well as large entrance gates. Along the sides, 100 marble benches and 12 statues of Carrara marble were installed on stone pedestals, representing the 12 signs of the zodiac.
These tree-lined spaces and gardens filled with cherry trees, acacias, passionflower, and jasmine were once oases within the urban fabric of the city, used for social activities and religious ceremonies. Vandalism and deferred maintenance have resulted in the deterioration of both spaces. The fountains and lanterns do not function, only two of the 100 benches survive, and parts of the sculptures have been destroyed. A lack of awareness and appreciation for the history and value of these important urban open spaces compounds the challenges. Restoration of the Alameda de los Descalzos and Paseo de Aguas could serve as an important vehicle for revitalizing public social life and bringing much needed benefits to this historic, but often overlooked, neighborhood of Lima.