The city of Piura in the region of the same name was a pleasant surprise – I had never been here before. It was clean, vibrant and with all the shops you’d find in Lima and not to mention sunny all year-round. It’s a place I wouldn’t mind spending a lot of time in.
When we arrived we headed straight to the tourism information office run by iPeru to ask what we could expect to see in the area and we were overwhelmed by the amount of information, advice and enthusiasm we received from the staff. We stayed in the Hotel San Miguel in the Plaza Pizarro, behind his statue towards the river.
Francisco Pizarro arrived in the area in 1530’s and founded South America’s first city in the Tangarara valley and called it San Miguel. The area served as Peru’s first port from which to ship the conquered Inca’s gold to Spain. Later, in 1588 Piura was founded and the area and its creole people flourished creating and perfecting their own foods, dance and subculture.
The plaza is the city’s place to be, as in many of the smaller cities and towns in Peru, people come to the plaza in the evenings and talk, make jokes and listen to music into the night. The plaza is surrounded by tamarindo trees planted in 1870. In the center a statue stands representing liberty and was presented by President Jose Balta, also in 1870.
The city’s cathedral was built in 1588 and stands in northern part of the plaza. Preserved inside is the Churrigueresque shrine of the Virgin de Fatima carved from Nicaraguan cedar and covered in gold leaf, probably one of the first in Peru. The upper altar was reconstructed in 1912 after an earthquake.