Lima’s Cathedral Gift Shop & Tearoo
This August Lima’s Cathedral finished renovating the gift shop, and Aracari received an invitation to come see what’s new. So last Saturday Simon and I wandered to the Plaza de Armas, where the Cathedral is located, to check out the shop. As we approached the entrance, we asked the attendant for the tienda (gift shop) and were directed towards open doors where sun poured inside of the dim church. We stepped out onto the Patio de los Naranjos, a narrow, yellow-walled courtyard named after that of Sevilla, and were greeted by purple sun umbrellas shading tables and a sign for La Tetería de La Catedral (Cathedral tearoom) that said “Welcome” in many languages. We were immediately taken by the tranquility of the space, which makes the noisy streets of Lima seem far away.
Patio de los Naranjos Tearoom
Though it has always been open to the public, the Patio de los Naranjos has only recently been transformed into an inviting space for reflection and relaxation, where people can read a book, meditate, enjoy a cup of tea and a quinua muffin from the tea shop or have a conversation with friends. Now, visitors to the Cathedral and the adjoining museums can finish their tours by perusing the new gift shop for souvenirs or reflecting on their visit over a fruit-infused tea. The tearoom and the store can be visited independently from the Cathedral by simply asking at the main doors of the church.
Just to the left of the tables of La Tetería tearoom is the door to the gift shop. Friend of Aracari and professor of architecture, specialist guide Luis Villacorta Santamato, oversaw the gift shop renovation, viewing it as an opportunity to promote the Cathedral and give back to local communities in need. Luis, who used to give tours of the Cathedral, greeted us and spoke about the items the shop sells and the reasons for the change.
He explained that the gift shop previously sold items that you might see at the indigenous markets around Lima, but rather than sell more of the same trinkets easily found elsewhere, he took inspiration from gift shops of European cathedrals that offer visitors merchandise related to the Cathedral that they can bring home as memorabilia of their visit or as a souvenir for a relative or friend.
The Gift shop
Currently, the shop sells items including pencils, key chains, magnets, bookmarks, mugs, notebooks and postcards that are printed with images of paintings and characteristic elements of the Cathedral like the ornate altarpiece of Nuestra Señora de la Evangelización (Our Lady of Evangelization), the painting of the Inca kings in the sacristy, details from the seats of the chorus and the tile art. There are other items like small plates and hats printed with “Catedral de Lima”, as well as T-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags that bear images of the Cathedral above the name. And of course, the shop stocks books about the history of the Cathedral and about important, religious figures like Saint Toribio of Mogrovejo, the second Archbishop of Lima. By the counter there is a small rack of jewelry, a mix of rosaries and bracelets with images of the patron saints of Lima, Saint Rose and of Saint Martin of Porres.
In addition to the items that are related to the Cathedral, there are many handicrafts for sale like intricately decorated jewelry boxes, hand mirrors and nativity scenes made in Cajamarca alongside hand-painted dolls and wooden angels carved in Ayacucho. The shop has an eclectic feel to it, as if each piece has been hand-selected. Moreover, the shop buys the items directly from the artisans, and the clothing and bag sales support a low-income community in the outskirts of Lima who, with the help of an NGO, print the images on the shirts.
Though compact, the gift shop of the Cathedral offers visitors a variety of quality items to purchase that are sustaining the Cathedral and the local artisans who sell their handicrafts to the shop. Luis told us that the shop will continue to add new products to its collection including Christmas cards for the holidays and new T-shirts printed with images of art from the Cathedral.
La Tetería Tearoom
After our tour, we sat down for tea with the coordinator of La Tetería tearoom, scholar and nutritionist, Teresita Daroca Capell. Just as Luis approached the new gift shop, Teresita considered La Tetería to be a project meant to support the local community and to promote the Cathedral at the same time. Additionally, with all natural products, fresh-baked pastries and breads and a variety of organic teas, Teresita wanted La Tetería to promote health and well-being by offering nutritious (and palate pleasing) products and a calming space for socializing or meditating. The Archbishop of Lima, Monsignor Raúl Chau Quispe gave La Tetería a blessing during the inauguration on September 21 and has supported the project from the start, hoping that the space will bring well-being and peace those who visit.
Teresita brought us a menu to sample some teas. Simon chose the green tea blend of Pomegranate and Dragonfruit, while I asked for Grandma’s Garden, an infusion of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, raisins, apples and flowers. Teresita demonstrated how the teas are prepared, each with a specific temperature of water and steeping time that ensures that all of the rich vitamins and minerals are extracted. The menu explains the myriad of health benefits that tea offers drinkers, including improved digestion, memory and concentration, cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. We gladly listened to Teresita list the benefits as we sipped our flavorful teas from the lovely China tea cups in which they were served.
The attention to details is impressive at La Tetería, from the tasteful décor to the carefully prepared menu, everything works in harmony to create a soothing ambiance. Even the pastries, breads and cakes are made with natural and local products like quinua, potatoes, mandarins, each decorated with the Christian fish symbol on top.
The service at La Tetería is another detail well-attended, as the employees were friendly and knowledgeable about the products. The tea shop offers employment to people in Lima who are struggling to find work or who have financial needs. All of the employees receive health benefits and are educated about nutrition and the products of the cafeteria. In addition to this community outreach effort, the space will be used to host birthday parties for children in Lima who are sick or lack the means to indulge in something as simple as a birthday party. Each month there will be a lottery in which a child is selected to have his or her birthday at the Patio de los Naranjos.
When Teresita finished her presentation of her project, she left us to drink our teas and enjoy the afternoon–something easily done at La Tetería. Simon and I were both pleasantly surprised by the hospitality and warm atmosphere we encountered at the Patio de los Naranjos during our visit. It is truly a special space that will surely entice many visitors to the museums at the Cathedral and locals who want a refuge from the bustle of Lima’s crowded center. I know I will certainly be back to try some of the pastries and to buy gifts for relatives.
Visiting Lima’s Cathedral & City Tour
La Tetería Tearoom and Giftshop can be visited as part of any city tour to Lima. Aracari specializes in private, tailormade tours of Peru. Contact us to plan a bespoke trip.