Government Palace (Peru)

Peru's Government Palace
House of Pizarro

View of the Peruvian Government Palace
General information
Architectural style Neobaroque
Town or city Lima
Country  Peru
Construction started 1535 (first construction)
24 August 1937 (last renovation)
Client Government of Peru
Design and construction
Architect Last renovation: Claude Antoine Sahut Laurent (French) and Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski (Poland)

The Government Palace (Spanish: Palacio de Gobierno) also known as House of Pizarro is the seat of the executive branch of the Peruvian Government and the official residence of the President of Peru. It was erected in 1535 over a huge huaca that had a shrine of the old Lima valley's cacique Taulichusco. It has undergone many transformations over the years. The last one was completed in the 20th century by President Oscar R. Benavides during his second government in the 1930s.

The Government Palace was built by Francisco Pizarro, the governor of New Castile. When the viceroyalty of Peru was established, the palace became the viceroy's residence and therefore the Peruvian government's headquarters. The main architect of its last rebuilding was Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski.

The palace is a stately government building with a set of ornamental guards. It is recognizable by the large wrought iron fence that surrounds the building and lines one side of the Plaza Mayor behind the Rímac River.


The Government Palace of Peru, also known as House of Pizarro, renovated in 1937, is located on the north side of the Plaza Mayor, Lima, "City of the Kings."


The main porch at Palacio Street shows the Pizarro Coat-of-Arms and is in the style of neo-colonial[1] (neo-plateresque) architectural design. It dates back to the 1920s and was designed and constructed by Claudio Sahut, architect of French origin.

The facade facing onto the Main Square is in the style of neo-baroque architectural design of a French inspiration. It dates from 1938 and was designed and constructed by Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski, architect of Polish origin.

The interior

Sevillan Courtyard of the Government Palace

The House of the Peruvian Government Headquarters has several ceremonial rooms. There is a well-kept garden in the same place that the Spanish conqueror wanted it to be. The legend affirms that a fig tree log reached Pizarro's hands and that he planted and took care of it. It grew and the same tree, challenging time, is still alive in the place.

Today, the palace features a number of courtyards, halls and rooms dedicated to notable figures of Peruvian history (V.G. the Presidential Office is named after "Colonel Francisco Bolognesi", the Agreements Room is named after "Admiral Miguel Grau", the Ministers Council Room is named after Captain of the Peru's Air Force José A. Quiñones Gonzáles and the Ambassadors Room has recently been named after "Inspector of the Guards Mariano Santos Mateos") and at the moment are conserved magnificent living rooms, like the Golden Living Room that has rich pictorial collections. It also has an elegant area which is the official residence of the President of the Republic.

Jorge Basadre Room

Previously called Eléspuru and Choquehuanca Hall. Spanish-Styled, it dates back to 1920s and is decorated. Big arches rest o marble columns. Four big windows lighten the hall. While visitors continue their tour, find a chaise escorted by an "Hussars of Junín" Regiment's dismounted trooper, there is another one. In these "Limousines" of the past, former Presidents took rides, showing the splendor in which they lived. In this hall there is a peculiar sculpture of the General José de San Martín, Peru's Liberator. His right hand shows that the artist knew an unknown phase of the Liberator. José de San Martín belonged to the Lodge of Freemasons.

Sevillan Room

It dates back to the 1920s. It has glazed tiles made in Seville, Spain. Each set displays a shield from Peru, from Lima and from Pizarro.

Golden Hall

It dates back to the 1920s. Perhaps the most impressive place in all the Government House is the Golden Hall. The huge living room with a vaulted ceiling is decorated with aboriginal and European motifs.

The walls of this room are decorated with mirrors. the furniture is in the Louis XIV's style; four bronze and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

In is central part a jaspe marble banister, framed by two marble columns, two matching marble tables, an old clock over a central table, there is a little statue of Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, the winner at the battle of St. Quentin in 1557, over the old clock, big mirrors contribute to make of it the most impressive spot of the room.

This room is the main living room for receptions. Its design is inspired on the Mirror Gallery of the Versailles Palace in Paris. It is here where Ministers take oath, and where Ambassadors deliver credentials to the President.

The Golden Hall honoring its name has golden leaf coverings all over the place, golden bronze in columns, and shining crystal chandeliers.

Pizarro Room

Pizarro on horseback by Daniel Hernández. This picture once stood in the Pizarro Room

It dates back to the 1920s. Today called Túpac Amaru II Room, the Pizarro Room, is a colonial-styled living room. There is a fireplace carved in wood over which hangs a big portrait of Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian hero. Since 1972 this portrait replaces the portrait of Pizarro. The environment displays rich and interesting artistic works. There are four sculptures representing the four seasons of the year, by Mateu, artist of French origin.

Visitors can also appreciate a throne given by the Japanese emperor Akihito to Peru, and paintings. This room is used by the President to give messages to the nation, also where press conferences take place, work meetings are held and eventually used as dining room.

Peace Room

It was designed by Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski. This room is the Main Dining Room of the Government Palace and is so called because was the location where Honduras and El Salvador signed a peace treaty on 30 October 1980 due to the mediation of the late president of Peru José Luís Bustamante y Rivero.

Banquets are served in the Main Dining Room, big room, in the east side between the honor hall and the Sayhuite Garden.

It has a colonial style, with a balcony on each side and where the entertaining orchestra is places, when needed. It has a beautiful crystal chandelier, made in quartz from Bohemia, hanging from the ceiling. This piece of huge size weighs around 2,000 kg. It is also remarkable the length of the table and carved chairs which have a leather back stamped with the Pizarro's shield in gold. The lining of the chairs has different colors for men and women. Paintings by Abraham Brughel and Gerónimo Cenatiempo decorate this unique place.

Admiral Miguel Grau Room

Previously called Agreements Room, there is a painting of the naval hero, Admiral Miguel Grau, the seaman also called "The Gentleman of the Seas", because in command of a small turret-ram ironclad named after "Huáscar" –The lion of the south seas and Admiral's ship of Peru, he managed to keep the whole enemy navy at bay in the so-called Pacific War (1879–1883).

A decorated chimney, made in dark wood and adorned with a maquete of the Monitor "Huáscar", is to be found to the right.

Ambassadors Room

This room is so called because is here where Ambassadors deliver credentials to the President. It is decorated, in wood and bronze, in the Louis XIV style and its furniture is in the Regency style.

On 31 December 2007, the Minister of the Home Office Luis Alva Castro proclaims this room will be named after Inspector of the Guards Mariano Santos Mateos, a Home Guard of Peru's national hero called The Brave of Tarapacá. On 27 November 1879 Mariano Santos Mateos, a Home Guard belonging to the "Guards of Arequipa" Battalion Nº 25, in a war action captured a Chilean army's flag belonging to "2nd. line infantry" battalion in the battle of Tarapacá during the Pacific war (1879–1883). The room shows two pictures, one portrait of Mariano Santos Mateos and one painting depicting the Peruvian victory in the Battle of Tarapacá.

Presidential residence

It dates from 1938 and is located inside the government house; there lives the President and his family, before the main entrance, there is a two-level great hall ornamented with Roman columns; the floor displays beautiful Indian motifs worked in marble. In the back, there is a staircase frame by two busts of Peru's South American Liberators: Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, both sculpted by the Peruvian Luís Agurto.

Over the main entrance door there is a valuable painting of Francisco Pizarro, by Daniel Hernández, a Peruvian painter. This painting was on the Pizarro Room wall until 1972.


The Government Palace of Peru lies on the Plaza Mayor of Lima, and Pizarro used it as head office of his legislation until his assassination in 1541.

The location of the Government Palace is of historical importance for two main reasons. It was house of Taulichusco, the ruler of the Rimac Valley during that time period. This was also the location where the General José de San Martín declared the Independence of Peru on 28 July 1821.

Pizarro laid down the building in 1535, a modest two-story pile of adobe. The old Pizarro's house was built following the Castile's line. It had two big yards for troops and stables.

The palace has a had a violent history. Pizarro had scarcely finished it in 1536, when the Indians revolted and Lima was enveloped by a vast army. The building was turned into a fortress and from its adobe walls Pizarro and his mistress (she was the sister of the Inca Atahualpa whom Pizarro had strangled) could look out of their window to see the bald peak of San Cristóbal (Saint Christopher) which frowns over the city, covered with shouting Indians. The siege lasted twelve days. Scarcely was this over when Pizarro and his palace were involved again – This time with Almagro the blinkard, the one-eyed warrior who as Pizarro's partner had made possible the conquest of Peru. They were enemies now. Eventually captured, after a bloody battle, old Almagro was put to death by Pizarro's brothers; but a son survived to keep alive the feud between them. Although repeatedly warned about the younger Almagro and the disbanded men of his army; gaunt, white-bearded Francisco Pizarro paid scant heed. He was at dinner on the Sunday afternoon of 26 June 1541 when a group of soldiers, called the Knights of the Cape, entered. Shouting "Death to the tyrant", they killed his retainers and rushed into Pizarro's room, where the old warrior was fastening on his buckler. Although outnumbered ten to one, Pizarro killed two of them until, as William Prescott wrote, the rebel leader called out, "Why are we so long about it?... and taking one of his companions... he thrust him against Pizarro... who ran him through with his sword. But at the moment he received a wound in his throat, and, reeling, he sank to the floor, while the swords... were plunged in to his body". "Confession", exclaimed the dying Pizarro, when a stroke... put an end to his existence. Pizarro was rolled into a bloody shroud, taken in the still of night and buried in the Cathedral Church. There he lay unmarked until in 1977 he was fished out and put into the glass crypt in the Cathedral Church.

Palace of the Viceroys in the 17th. century

The Viceregal Period

After Pizarro's death, the Viceroys arrived, took over the building, converted it into a Viceregal Palace and Peru entered into its long viceregal period.

In this period it was enlarged from time to time and occupied by 43 Viceroys, beginning with Pizarro, and ending with José de la Serna, who was forced out in 1821.

The Republican period

Peru's Government Palace in the middle of 1920s

After viceroyship, it is the headquarters of all the Presidents of the Republic of Peru, until now.

The facade of the Government Palace facing onto the Main Square is in the style of neo-baroque architectural design of a French inspiration. It dates from 1938

Time passed and it was modified but its original disposition was honored. It was decorated and enriched with paintings, furniture, sculptures. It is only in the second half of the 19th century that it was decided to excel the Government Headquarters.

On December 1884, there was a fire in the government palace and a new building was to be built after the disaster in General Miguel Iglesias' governmental period.

In 1921, a fire turned to ashes a great deal of the building. President Leguía ordered its reconstruction by modifying its facade, starting, in that way, the construction of the present government palace.

Construction of the palace started in 1926, during the presidency of Augusto B. Leguía. The first phase was designed by the French architect Claudio Sahut, although work on the palace stopped in 1932. The second phase was built between 1937 and 1938, during the presidency of Oscar R. Benavides, who assigned completion of the palace to Polish architect Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski. Work began on 24 August 1937 with the demolition of the older structure. The project was completed the following year and the new Government Palace was officially inaugurated.

Guards of the Palace

The Viceregal Period

Interior aspect of the Viceregal Palace in Lima. Can be seen in it the Halberdiers of the Royal Infantry Guard, and the throne of the Viceroy of Peru. Drawing made in the epoch of the Viceroy Manuel de Amat y Junient (17721776)

When the Viceroyship was established the Guards of the Viceregal Palace was the Royal Halberdier Corps, a Company of Infantry of the Viceroy's Guard.

When Lt. Antonio de Ulloa, of the King's navy, turned up in 1740 to Lima, he, as a soldier, admired the uniforms of the bodyguards of the Viceroy: "blue turned up with red and laced with silver".

The Royal Halberdiers were the Viceroy's Guard for three hundred of Lima's years right till the Latin American wars of independence.

The Republican period

"Republican Guard of Peru" Battalion of Infantry Gendarms Nº 1 in its headquarters at the "Sacramentos de Santa Ana" street in the Barrios Altos - Cercado de Lima - Perú.
Changing of the Dragoon guard by the "Field Marshal Nieto" Regiment of Cavalry, Life-Guard of the President of the Republic of Peru

From 1821 onward the duty of protecting the Government Palace fell on the Peruvian Army's shoulders, thus various Army units were stationed there also for public duties as well. Since 1852 the Peruvian National Gendarmerie co-shared this responsibility, and from 1873 onward they were joined by constables of the Civil Guard.

It was not until the second term of President Augusto Bernardino Leguía Salcedo that an infantry battalion was permanently assigned, not just for the security of the palace, but also for public duties as well. At the suggestion of Peruvian Army General Gerardo Alvarez, who when on a visit to Paris, France, saw the French Republican Guard and was inspired by its long history and its mission to guard government institutions, and the presidency made it clear that it was due time for Peru to adopt the practice, the First Gendarme Infantry Battalion, later renamed as the 1st "Republican Guard of Peru" Infantry Gendarme Battalion of the Peruvian National Gendarmerie, was granted the duties as the presidential guard battalion by a Presidential Decree on 7 August 1919.[2] With Florentino Bustamante, a former NCO, as its first commanding officer till 1923, the Guard Battalion's mandate was to ensure security in all buildings of the national government especially "the security of the Government Palace and the National Congress", as stated in the decree that raised it. In the years that followed, the battalion grew in strength until becoming a full presidential guard regiment, and moved to new barracks at the Quinta de Presa palace in 1931.

That same year, the Republican Guard Regiment was transformed into the 2nd Infantry Regiment of Security, in a failed effort to begin the unification of the national police services following the Chilean example. It reverted to its former name later that year orders of President David Samanez Ocampo, and formally reorganized once more and stripped of its State Color.

The regiment would be reformed in 1932, with a new motto: "Honor, Loyalty, Discipline", by now commanded by COL Enrique Herbozo Méndez, Peruvian Army, and after the assassination of President Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro on 30 April 1933, stayed as the presidential guard for several more years. The reorganized Regiment's strength was a regimental headquarters unit, service battalion and 2 battalions, the latter two composed of 3 rifle companies each plus a machine gun platoon and the regimental band and Corps of drums.

n 1935 the Guard's role was expanded, through the enactment by the National Congress of the Republican Guard Organic Law, signed that same year by President Field Marshal Óscar R. Benavides, to patrolling the land frontiers, security of prisons, security of private and public places of national importance, and to assist in maintaining peace and order and national security as a whole, as well as contributing to the efforts of the armed forces during wartime. With the increasing role of the Guard in the other provisions of the law, it left palace duties in 1940.

Since 1940 the responsibility of caring for the President and the facilities of the Palace of Government of Peru was taken over by the Palace Machine guns Detachment of the Civil Guard (formerly of the Security Corps and raised in 1924, disbanded in 1930 and reformed again in 1933), a name that held until 23 January 1944. The Police Headquarters - Government Palace's Machine Guns Detachment until 1969 were responsible for the custody of the Head of State, until it was reorganized into a police unit, and it was succedeed in that role until 1986 by the Civil Guard Independent Assault Battalion (Presidential Security) from the CG 24th Command, and by the following year by the 501st Military Police Battalion of the Peruvian Army.

Today the Government Palace is a stately government building with a set of ornamental guards for the amusement of tourists, and for public duties on behalf of the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru to its Commander in Chief, the President, and his First Family. The actual security for the palace is today provided for by personnel of both the Presidential Security Division, State Security Directorate and the Civil Disturbance Directorate of the National Police of Peru.

The Dragoon Guards of the "Field Marshal Nieto" Life-Guard Cavalry Escort Regiment of the President of the Republic of Peru were the classic Horse Guards of the Government Palace until their 1987 disbandment. This Regiment of Dragoons[3] was raised in 1904 following the recommendations of the first French military mission that undertook the Peruvian Army reorganization in 1896. The Dragoon Guards of the "Field Marshal Nieto" Regiment of Cavalry were to Perú what the British Royal Household Cavalry Brigade is to United Kingdom in the 19th century and were fashioned after French dragoon regiments of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, today, upon its reestablishment it is now the Peruvian equivalent, alongside the Junin Hussars Regiment and the Mounted Squadron of the Corps of Cadets of the Chorrillos Military School, to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Formerly the Cavalry Squadron "President's Escort" and later a full ceremonial regiment of cavalry, it received its present designation in 1949, named after Field Marshal Domingo Nieto.

At 13.00 p.m. every day, the main esplanade in front of the building and fronting the Main Square, through the years is the venue for the changing of the guard, directed by the Dragoons of the Presidential Guard of mounted infantry, either dismounted or mounted, with the regimental mounted military band, and sometimes in the presence of the President and the First Family. Their full dress uniforms, then and now, are either white tunics (in the summer) or blue breeches (in the winter) with red pants with epaulettes (gold for officers and red for NCOs and enlisted personnel), similar to the French practice, and a golden pith helmet with the coat of arms of Peru, and they are armed with sabres, lances, and the FN FAL rifle, one of the standard issue rifles used by the Peruvian Army till today.

In 1987 the Peruvian president Alan García did not like the regimental drill, patterned after the French fashion, of the "Field Marshal Domingo Nieto" Regiment of Cavalry, Life-Guard of the President of the Republic of Peru and ordered the 1st Light Cavalry, "Glorious Hussars of Junín" Regiment, Peru's Liberators, to be his life-guard unit and the Junín Hussars are his Horse Guards ever since until 2012. The Hussars were raised in 1821 by José de San Martín as part of the Peruvian Legion of the Guard, and fought at the final battles of the Latin American wars of independence in Junin and Ayacucho. Wearing uniforms similar to the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers "General San Martín", but in red and blue, they carry sabres and lances on parade, both on the ground and while mounted on horses. They moved to the Army Education and Doctrine Command in 2012 after 25 years of service, but the regiment still rides to the Palace and in state ceremonial events when needed.

Other ceremonial guards units in the palace include:

The Fanning Marine Company of the Peruvian Navy has since 2007 become part of the Palace's ceremonial foot guards, alternating with the Junin Hussars and the Peruvian Legion of the Guard Infantry Battalion, thanks to President Alan Garcia's orders to open the ceremony's participation to the other services of the Armed Forces and the National Police, represented by their historical and ceremonial units. Of all these, only the Peruvian Legion of the Guard 1st Infantry Battalion does not participate as of present.

The Marshal Nieto Dragoon Life Guards Escort Cav. Regt. were reactivated by order of President Ollanta Humalla and the Peruvian Ministry of Defense on 2 Feb. 2012, but they are now part of the guards units stationed, thus alternating with the other guards units in the palace grounds beginning from 30 July of the same year onward, and earlier made their return on the annual 29 July Great Military Parade. 8 May 2012 would also see the first appearance after 5 years in the Changing of the Guard Ceremony of the Peruvian Air Force's ceremonial and historical unit, the Airborne Platoon of the 72nd Squadron, together with the Central Band of the Peruvian Air Force.

The ceremony is open to the general public.

Aside from the usual changing of the guard ceremony the Dragoon Guards together with the other ceremonial units of the Armed Forces perform public flag raising and flag lowering ceremonies as well in the morning and the late afternoon.

While the Dragoon Guards change their sentries on Mondays, Fridays and on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month (while mounted), the other guards units make their mounts on all Saturdays and on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.

Summary of the Guard Mount

In every weekday and weekend at noon the Guard Mounting ceremony at the Government Palace is done on foot, but the solemn ceremony done on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month by the Mar. Nieto Dragoon Guards Presidential Escort Regiment, in the presence of the President of Peru and the First Lady or the chief of the Presidential Military Staff in their absence (or as in the case starting from 2014, government ministers having the honor of presiding over the solemn guard mount), is done mounted. The public and tourists can view those ceremonies at purpose made stands outside the palace for free on the selected Sundays.

The ceremony begins as the regimental mounted band trots past the President playing "La Rejouissance" from the Royal Fireworks by Handel. After the band halts and turns about a fanfare is sounded. Two officers from one of the regiment's troops arrive at the gate, mounted on their horses, and gallop past the President followed by a walk past to the tune of the band. As the music halts the officers face front and draw their sabres. The Chief Officer calls the regiment's troops and salutes with the Executive Officer; second in command of a military unit, as the color guard and the guidon escort guard trots into the palace square followed by the troopers from the platoons led by their officers, designated as the Old and New Guards, as the band plays appropriate music. As the music halts the officers face front to order a full salute and to inform the President of the commencement of the ceremony. As the salute ends the platoons begin their Musical Ride in the presence of the President, as the band plays appropriate music chosen for this part of the ceremony. As the ride ends the troops forms up in parade order and walk past the President, bringing the ceremony to a close.

On the 21 April 2013 Guard Mounting ceremony in the presence of the President, the ceremony was finally changed. Now, after the band takes their position, 3 officers from the Regiment trot to the entrance of the palace to inform the President that the guard changing ceremony is about to start, render a salute (to the tune of the March of the Flags), and trot off to take their places at the patio as the mounted band plays music. If only the chief of the PMS is present in the President's behalf the band only plays honors music during the salute, and only the leading officer salutes in his presence. The fanfare follows the report followed by the entrance of the platoons. And instead of the platoons saluting the President, the band sounds a fanfare as the Old and New Guards salute each other before the Musical Ride starts, with the ride ending with the guards trotting off, followed by another exhibition by the Chorrillos Military School and the Army Cavalry and Equestrianism School's mounted squadrons.

The Regiment's mounted band's instrumentation changed as well to include bass drums, suspended cymbals and snare drums to add flavor to the ceremonial music being played. As in all guard mounts, they start and end the proceedings by trotting past the dignitaries at the Palace entrance.

The dismounted mounting ceremony of the other guards units on Saturdays and on the 2nd and 4th Sundays mirrors that of the Dragoon Regiment. However, a drill exhibition with music from the band in attendance is part of the act. Unlike the Dragoon Regiment, which marches in slow time during the Monday and Friday ceremonies, the other units make their entrance in quick time.


  1. Architecture which between the 1920s and 1940s had lots of success particularly in Lima.
  2. Article 1 of Supreme Decree of 7 August 1919 reads: "The 1st and 2nd Gendarme Battalions have the same regimental organization of army corps, with its current budget and shall now called the " Republican Guard ", commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, with 27 officers and 431 individuals of all ranks, divided into 2 companies of 2 battalions each, 1 machine gun company and a headquarters military band."
  3. According to British Encyclopedia Dragoon means: In late 16th-century Europe, a mounted soldier who fought as a light cavalryman on attack and as a dismounted infantryman on defense. The terms derived from his weapon, a species of carbine or short musket called the dragoon. Dragoons were organized not in squadrons but in companies, and their officers and non-commissioned officers bore infantry titles.


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Coordinates: 12°02′43″S 77°01′48″W / 12.04514°S 77.02989°W / -12.04514; -77.02989

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