In the center of the Plaza de Armas you will find the Obelisk, a monument to the Iquitos military heroes who fought in the War of the Pacific against Chile in 1879. The south side of the plaza is marked by the Iglesia Matriz, built in 1919. Inside you will find religious paintings by Américo Pinasco and César Calvo de Araujo.
Across the plaza, on the corner of Putumayo and Próspero, is the Casa de Fierro (Iron House), designed by Gustav Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. It was bought by wealthy rubber businessman Anselmo del Águila and shipped in pieces only to be reassembled on its current site.
Around the corner at Napo and Raimondi is the Casa de Barro, the mud-and-wood house used as a warehouse by rubber baron Fermín Fitzcarrald.
A block from the Plaza de Armas along the Río Itaya is the hectic and busy pedestrian Malecón Tarapacá, also a prime viewpoint from which to view the river’s landscape. The construction of this walkway began during the rubber boom in the late 19th century; it was recently improved with fountains, benches, and street lamps. The promenade is lined with 19th-century mansions built by rubber barons and decorated with azulejos (tiles imported from Spain and Portugal).
The most spectacular of these is the former Palace Hotel (Malecón Tarapacá 208). Built 1908–1912, in an art-nouveau style, this three-story building was the most luxurious in Peru’s Amazon. Its iron balconies were imported from Hamburg, the marble from Carrara, and the multicolored mosaics from Seville. The building currently serves as a military base.
Along the Malecón is the Biblioteca Amazónica (Malecón Tarapacá 354, 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–noon and 3–8 p.m. Sat.), an excellent library containing a range of books, maps, old photographs, newspapers, and films.
The Museo Regional Amazónico (Malecón Tarapacá 386, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat., US$1.50) houses the Sons of our Land, selection of 76 fiberglass statues out of approximately 300, of indigenous Indians from various tribes of Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela, created by the eccentric Peruvian-Swedish artist Felipe Lettersten in 1987 to preserve the memory of these rapidly vanishing cultures. The historic building was constructed in 1863 and restored in 1996 to be converted into a museum. It contains wall panels, doors, and ceilings of intricately carved old-growth mahogany.
There are of elegant old rubber baron homes near the city center. Casa Cohen (Próspero 401) was built with Moroccan tiles and Parisian grates in 1905, and now houses a supermarket. Another is the neoclassic Casa Morey (Próspero 502).
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition