Famous People from Peru and Peruvian Currency: Peruvian Money – Peru Paper Money, Nuevo Sol & Famous Peruvians

Saint Rose of Lima, depicted on the 200 soles bill

The Nuevo Sol was introduced as standard Peruvian currency in 1991. Peruvian banknotes are divided into bills of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Nuevos Soles. Each banknote pays tribute to a famous Peruvian from the history of the nation. The following is an overview of the famous Peruvians featured on Peru’s paper money since 1991.

Peruvian Money: 10 Nuevos Soles – Famous Peruvian: José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzáles

On the front of the 10 Nuevos Soles banknote is a portrait of José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzáles. Quiñones Gonzáles was born in Pimentel, Peru, in 1914. He joined the Jorge Chávez Aviation School as a cadet and quickly earned a reputation as a promising young pilot. He further caught the eye with his acrobatic flying. His trick of flying a plane upside down only meters from the ground appears on the reverse of the 10 Soles note.

Quiñones then rose through the ranks of the Peruvian Air Force, eventually being promoted to lieutenant. He became a Peruvian hero after giving his life for his country in the Ecuadorian–Peruvian war (1941-1942). On a bombing run against an Ecuadorian artillery battery, Quiñones’ aircraft sustained severe damage. With little hope of bailing out, Quiñones took the decision to fly his aircraft into the enemy position. He accomplished his mission, but at the cost of his own life.

Peruvian Money: 20 Nuevos Soles – Famous Peruvian: Raúl Porras Barrenechea

Raúl Porras Barrenechea (1897-1960), portrayed on the front of the 20 Nuevos Soles banknote, was a man of many talents. He was a writer, lecturer and historian as well as a diplomat and politician. With doctorates in both law and literature, he expanded Peruvian horizons artistically and politically.

Barrenechea began his political career as an assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1948 he took charge of the Peruvian Embassy in Madrid, before becoming a Lima senator in the Congress of the Republic in 1956. At the height of his career he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry itself, housed in the Palacio de Torre Tagle, is pictured on the reverse of the 20 Soles note.

Raúl Porras Barrenechea is also recognized for his great contribution to Peruvian literature and historical research. He was a professor of Spanish literature and a leading member of various historical academies and institutes.

Peruvian Money: 50 Nuevos Soles – Famous Peruvian: Abraham Valdelomar Pinto

Abraham Valdelomar Pinto (1888-1919) was a famous Peruvian writer and essayist. Despite suffering a fall which led to his early death in 1919, Valdelomar contributed a great deal to Peruvian literature in his short career.

His reputation grew at first from his essays and chronicles published in Peruvian magazines. With the publication of his poems, short stories and novels, Valdelomar found an even wider audience. He became one of the leading lights in Peruvian literary and intellectual circles before his untimely death.

Valdelomar appears on the front of the 50 Soles banknote; on the back of the note is the Huacachina Lagoon which can be found in the Ica district of Peru where Valdelomar was born.

Peruvian Money: 100 Nuevos Soles – Famous Peruvian: Jorge Basadre Grohmann

Jorge Basadre Grohmann (1903-1980) appears on the front of the 100 Soles banknote. The Peruvian National Library, to which he was appointed in 1943, appears on the reverse. Jorge Basadre also served two different Peruvian administrations as Minister of Education, and was elected president of the Historic Institute of Peru, a position he held from 1956 to 1962.

His contribution to Peruvian historical documentation was arguably his greatest achievement. Jorge Basadre wrote extensively and in meticulous detail about the history of Peru, largely from independence until the mid-1900s. His greatest work, the Historia de la República (History of the Republic), still remains the seminal text for students of modern Peruvian history.

Peruvian Money: 200 Nuevos Soles – Famous Peruvian: Saint Rose of Lima

Saint Rose of Lima (or Santa Rosa de Lima) was the first Catholic Saint of the Americas. Born in Lima, Peru, in 1586, Rosa devoted her life to God.

At first noted for her beauty, she began to disfigure her facial features in order to turn attention away from her and towards God. Her charitable acts, her fasting, her abstinence from sexual relations and her unfaltering faith stayed with her throughout her short life. She died in 1617 at the age of 31.

In 1671, Rosa was canonized by Pope Clement X becoming the first saint of the Americas. She appears on the front of the elusive 200 Soles banknote, with the Convent of Santo Domingo on the reverse.

Unlike the 10, 20, 50 and 100 Nuevos Soles banknotes, the 200 Soles note is a real rarity. Despite officially being in circulation, the chances of coming across one in day-to-day transactions are minimal at best.


  1. Kelly Boyd – Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing (P.14 Vol.1), Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999, ISBN 1884964338