“Un barrio, una historia…” – Graffiti on the walls, urban art around every corner, free art galleries and social events
Monumental Callao is one of the new trendy areas close to Lima. Callao is bordering with the Lima region and forms part of Lima Metropolitana but is not part of the region of Lima! A small but an important detail and something the “Chalacos” – locals from Callao – are very proud of. The former notorious port district became a hip place which invites with social events, a lot of amazing street art and good food. All this thanks to art initiatives which transformed the old center of Callao. The Peruvian art scene is never disappointing and it is surprising how fast and dynamic it is evolving. This less-known part close to Lima is worth a visit!
HOW TO GET THERE The easiest and safest way is to take a taxi via Taxibeat, Uber or any other app. We went by Taxibeat and it costed us 23 Soles (one-way) from Barranco in Lima until Monumental Callao (Jr. Constitución 250, Callao). Otherwise you can hop on a bus. You can check on Moovitapp which bus is running from your location. “La Punta” is the direction the bus or combi should head to (at least the last one if you have to change buses in between).
GOOD TO KNOW The art galleries (most of them can be found in the historic Ronald Building) are free to visit and many artists love to talk about their work, so just jump in and have a chat. While most of the artworks are rather expensive the galleries all commit to working with the community and employing local people. The area with its workshops and colourful streets is perfect for a family trip on the weekend. You can join graffiti classes or guided tours to experience this area in more depth. If leaving the renewed areas be aware that safety might be still an issue. When exploring further areas outside of Monumental Callao, an old woman advised us not to walk camera on hand and to stick to the main roads.
Callao, a historical and notorious port district famous for smuggling cocaine in the world, had its troubles with crime and drug gangs. However, thanks to the private initiative “Fugaz”, by an Israeli art lover and investor, a process of gentrification and renewal began – Monumental Callao was reborn. Through art and culture the transformation started with a few local artists who converted several walls in the historic center into art pieces – offering locals an alternative to a life in crime and violence. Meanwhile the international street art scene is contributing in Monumental Callao, giving this place an even more diverse and multicultural atmosphere. Callao was founded by the Spanish colonists in the 16th century and quickly became the main port for all goods from Spanish Latinamerica. All goods produced in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina were shipped from Callao, following the route over Panama and Cuba on to Spain. But after the boom the port district experienced an economic decline and crime was dominating the streets of Callao. Finally due to clever initiatives this historic part is living up again – involving many local artists and a strong engagement of the local community – the transformation of the barrio is moving fast. The community of Callao is a very proud and strong community. If you ever met someone from Callao, you probably noticed how important it is for them to mention their roots. The renewed center invites with a lot of colourful street art as well as art galleries and gastronomy. Especially on weekends you can enjoy many events with live music and dance or you can join workshops, talk with the artists and get lost in the many colourful streets which invite for perfect pictures. Close by you can visit the historic Real Felipe fortress or even combine your visit with a trip to “La Punta” – a wealthy residential neighbourhood located on a peninsula in Callao.
Monumental Callao Direction: Jr. Constitución 250, Callao. Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. All information about tours and workshops on www.monumentalcallao.com If you want to understand in more depth the transformation of this area and you understand a bit of Spanish check here!