The oldest university in the Americas is in Lima, Peru

Zelda Caldwell | Feb 05, 2020

The National University of San Marcos was founded in 1551 by the Catholic King of Spain.

The oldest and longest continuously operating university in the Americas is the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, established in 1551 by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain.

Known today as “The University of Peru” and the ”Dean of the Americas,” the public research university was once called the”Royal and Pontifical University of the City of the Kings of Lima.” At its founding, the university was run by Dominicans and offered classes in Theology, Arts (philosophy) and Law.

Founded 85 years before Harvard University was established (1636) in North America, the University of Peru continues to be a leading university today, with over 30,000 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students. When the Peruvian republic was established in 1821, the Catholic university was closed. It was reestablished as an autonomous secular university in 1874. Nobel Prize winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa is an alum.

Basilica and convent of Santo Domingo, where the University of San Marcos was established