The closed balconies of Lima and how they affected women’s relationship to the public space and sphere


Women experience architecture and spaces differently than men. Historically, women were kept in the domestic and private realm, excluded from the public space and the public sphere. In contrast, women in the colonial “City of Kings” of Lima had a unique relationship to the exterior during that era. 

This essay examines how the closed balconies, also known as second-period balconies, affected the upper-class women’s relationship to the public space and public sphere of life, during colonial and republican times (1620-1842). And, furthermore, how did these women appropriated the closed balconies for their own purpose. This will be done by the analysis and examination of works that relate to three subjects, the upper-class women’s shifting role in society, the description of the arrival, implementation, and use of the closed balconies in domestic architecture, and the life in the city of Lima. For this, the main sources of information are the travel log of Flora Tristan, the architecture book by Yolanda Fernandez Muñoz, the historical review by Charles F. Walker, the historical anecdotes of Ricardo Palma, the archive of the Riva Aguero Institute, and the writings of Anne Lambright. Thus, the role and impact of the closed balconies in upper-class women’s involvement with the public space and sphere will be understood.