Plaza de Armas and Casa de Fierro (Iron House)
Iquitos is a popular base for visiting the Amazon region. To properly experience the river and the jungle, get to one of the river lodges. The hot and uncomfortably humid town does have some worthwhile sights, and an important historic past.
Iquitos rose to prominence in the mid-19th Century as the rubber trade took off in the region. This has long declined, but the town retains its role as an export center for timber, tobacco, fruit, nuts and even wild animals.
For an appreciation of the growth and history of the town, the best place to start is the central Plaza de Armas. This beautiful square offers an airy, green space in the middle of a busy town; little has changed in nearly 200 years. The town’s main church, Iglesia Matriz, is on the southern side. Of special note here are biblical paintings by artists from the region.
One of the most interesting buildings in the town, the Casa de Fierro is at the southeastern corner of the plaza. This majestic building, glistening in the daytime sun, displays the wealth from the town's boom times. Gustave Eiffel designed the building and exhibited it at the Paris exhibition of 1889 alongside his famous tower. A Peruvian rubber baron then purchased it and had it transported and re-assembled here. Today it is in use as a restaurant.
The square is busiest in the evening, when locals come to enjoy the cool breeze. There are often stalls and street performers to enjoy; the surrounding buildings are illuminated at night.