2012 World Monuments Watch
The Alameda de los Descalzos and Paseo de Aguas are two unique open spaces in the Rímac district of historic Lima. The Alameda de los Descalzos was constructed in 1611 by Viceroy Juan de Mendoza y Luna, Marquis of Montesclaros. The Paseo de Aguas was constructed in 1770 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 two open landscapes—among the first and largest designed recreational spaces in the Americas—were renowned for their beauty. They reflect international influences in a period when the Peruvian capital was flourishing. In 1856, both areas were given a new and final design, with the installation of a wrought-iron fence imported from England and large entrance gates. To the periphery of the spaces, 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 resulted in the deterioration of both the Alameda de los Descalzos and Paseo de Aguas, and they were included on the World Monuments Watch in 2012. At the time of the Watch announcement, the fountains and lanterns did not function, only two of the 100 benches survived, and parts of the sculptures had been destroyed. A lack of awareness and appreciation for the history and value of these important spaces were additional challenges. They were selected for the Watch in part because their restoration 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.
Since the Watch
As part of the Municipality of Lima’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate a series of public spaces in the Rímac district, the restoration of Alameda de los Descalzos and Paseo de Aguas began in July 2014. Due to insufficient resources the project was interrupted for several months, but in January 2016 it was completed and the two spaces were reopened to the public.