Its ancient gates, walls and towers have disappeared, but it still possesses a few medieval edifices.
This constant burning of large portions of the city is a marked feature of its early history, and we must remember that, although stone buildings were rising on all sides, these were churches, monasteries, and other public edifices; the ordinary houses remained as before, small wooden structures.
It was captured by Pizarro in 1533, and it is said that its size and the magnificence of its principal edifices filled the Spaniards with surprise.
Among the public edifices are the capitol, which occupies a whole square, the university, of nearly equal size, the cathedral, pantheon, masonic temple (built by the state in the spendthrift days of Guzman Blanco), national library, opera-house, and a number of large churches.
William Gilpin calls the cypress an architectural tree: "No Italian scene," says he, "is perfect without its tall spiral form, appearing as if it were but a part of the picturesquely disposed edifices which rise from the middle ground against the distant landscape."