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In the Footsteps of “Conversos” A Virtual Jewish Walking Tour of Lima, Peru
Thursday, September 7, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Did you know that there was a secret Jewish community in Lima during the 16th and 17th centuries? And that many natives of Lima are of Jewish descent without knowing it? Join us for a live walking tour and discover the secret Jewish community of Lima, Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries. We will learn about this hidden story by walking through downtown Lima and stopping at historic sites, including the location of the first synagogue. We will also hear about some of Lima’s famous Jews, and how the community is faring today. Our guide for this adventure, Vanessa, was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She has been a professional tour guide and an ambassador for the city of Lima since 2006 and has been a virtual tour guide since 2020. With over 15 years of guiding experience, guiding is her passion. Vanessa loves to share her knowledge of the history, architecture, cuisines, culture, and more about Lima with her travelers.
Lima is the capital and largest city, as well as the commercial and industrial center, of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac, and Lurín Rivers, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and forms a contiguous urban area with the seaport of Callao, which is about eight miles (13 km) away on the coast. Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535, as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or “The City of Kings.” It became the most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru and, after independence, was made the capital of the Republic of Peru. The city’s historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, due to its large number of historical buildings dating from the Spanish colonial era. During the latter half of the twentieth century, unprecedented poverty and violence in the Andean highlands forced hundreds of thousands of Amerindian peasants to migrate to Lima, bringing an exponential increase in its population. The presence of Jews in Peru dates back to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The new world proved inhospitable to these Iberian Jews, however, many of whom were forced to convert by the Peruvian Inquisition, which was established in 1570. As a result of this persecution, there is little reliable data on the country’s Jewish population until the Inquisition’s end in the early 19th century, after which Peru enjoyed an influx of German and Russian Jews.