Monumental Callao – The neo-classical Peruvian shelter for culture and colors


(Approximate reading time: 9 minutes)

Every visitor, traveler and tourist might have heard already something about Barranco. Where old Colonial buildings and atmospheric bars project a bohemian neighborhood amongst all the graffitis, street musicians and artists. So far so good, but not anymore an insiders’ tip, more a necessity for every visitor of Lima.


A real insiders’ tip is the picturesque little city of Callao. You’ll find here as well many incredible and colorful graffitis, street musicians who play the sounds of Latin American music and many interesting museums. The whole district around ‘Monumento Callao’ pulsates of culture and you can breathe history at every corner.


First thing I learned during my visit was, that Callao isn’t part of Lima, but independent. It is even an own district in the inner Peruvian geopolitical classification and doesn’t belong to Lima, neither was ever part of it. This surprised me a lot, because it borders directly with Lima and is only 15 kilometers away from the city centre. Callao was found in 1531 and is now 487 years old. Therewith it is even older than Lima, which was found four years later. And I’m pretty sure, that no one else who read this text, knew that before.

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First time I visited Callao was in early April, it was a nice and sunny Sunday. With the two local Peruvian friends I was travelling with – Susan and Giuliana – we have had a wonderful day there. Both told me, that Monumental Callao is a ‘Must’ for everyone who loves graffiti, neo-fashioned arts and culture. Thus, the perfect destination for someone who has these interests like me.

Callao has many interesting corners with a lot of colors and unusual things to show, every street is a mystery and you’ll be curious what you can find here.

What I really like about some art objects in Callao, is that the artists seem to give a f**k about what society thinks about their work and have love and passion for detail as you can see on the following pictures showing a stallion made out of metal…


Callao was a problematic region of Peru and it still is. People are very humble in this area and live in simple housings. Daily life happens there for the people on the unpaved roads. It happened often, that I heard people in Lima talking about Callao with caution and a certain dose of awestruck respect.

From the socio-political point of view, Callao might not have the best reputation. Whether this is justified or not, Callao could be perceived as a problem child. A few years ago, Callao was completely restored from resourcefully architects and city planners and finally it was modelled a showable and proud face to the world.

The most important thing about arts (similar to satire), is that there are no rules, regulations or limits. Every limitation robs the artist the air to breathe and the possibilities to express their creativity. So if you take a look at the following pictures, which were taken at the ‘Plaza de Armas’ en Callao, would you agree or disagree, that it has something to do with arts? For me it was at first glance shocking to see this in public…

I can recommend to invest a day trip to Callao, but at least to spend five or six hours there. Public bus transport to Callao exists, but please don’t ask me how to get there. I never understood the chaotic public transport system of Lima and always preferred to take a taxi. Driving to Callao with a cab might cost you – Depending on your own location – between 5 and 8 dollars. The best would be to go during the day at noon. I heard several stories about the danger to be in this area at night, so better go there when you have the opportunity to see everything during the day. Graffiti are anyways easier and better visible at daylight 🙂

You can reach and see all the things by yourself without being in need of a tour guide. Although it might help of course to get a lot of background information if desired, I think, that this is the perfect location to discover yourself. Callao was for many weeks and months on my “To see”-list, but I always postponed a visit. Damned, I wish, that I would have done it earlier!


The second time I visited Callao was only one week after the first time. There was a festival about electronic music, which is at the same time very special, because electronic music is quite difficult to find in Peru. And it was a rooftop party with the option to see the whole skyline of Callao illuminated at night. Very beautiful, especially the harbor looks terrific at night.

So if this didn’t convince you yet to make a visit, what else can I write to support my assertion, that Callao is the fanciest and most breathtaking place of Peru? I can only recommend to add Callao Monumental to your travel schedule, if possible. You won’t be disappointed!