Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Lima-area attractions. Shrouded in fog more than half
the year (mostly in winter from May to December), Lima teems with architectural monuments adding
historic dimension to vibrant nightlife filled with culinary adventure and potent lemony
libations like pisco sours. Conqueror Francisco Pizarro founded Lima, known as the City of Kings,
in 1535. For nearly three centuries Lima served as capital of Spain's South American empire,
and evidence of that heritage remains in the city's intellectual vitality and stately, if
slightly crumbling, boulevards. In recent decades, rural Peruvians have streamed into Lima
seeking better lives, and streets are packed with vendors (ambulantes) hungry enough to push
just about anything on prospective buyers. Because so many artisans have arrived from the Sierra,
any kind of handicraft produced in Peru can be found, from inexpensive engraved gourds to
hand-spun and woven textiles to hand-made leather products and llama or alpaca wool ponchos,
rugs, and slippers. Half of Peru's town dwellers now live in Lima, population eight million,
which also hosts nearly two-thirds of the nation's industries. (Villa El Salvador, a few miles
southeast of Lima, ranks high among the world's largest squatters camps, with 350,000 people
and an award-winning self-government.) As capital of Peru (South America's third largest country
following Brazil and Argentina), Lima lies in the central occidental part of the country,
with the Andes to the east, and the Pacific to the west. Limeno dishes often center on potatoes
(Peru is the world's potato capital) and Pacific seafood, with standouts including ceviche
(raw fish marinated in lime juice) and seconde chavedo (fish stew with potatoes and roasted
green bananas). Most dishes are seasoned with assorted types of aji (peruvian hot peppers).
Lima beans (pronounced LY-muh, as in the Ohio city, rather then Peru's LEE-Muh) also have
Peruvian roots, grown from at least the early 1500s, and named for the ''Lima bark''
covering of the cinchona tree containing quinine, once the only treatment for malaria.
The heart of Lima still reflects colonial days with fine architecture and works of art,
and much of what visitors want to see is near the Plaza de Armas, near the Desamparados
Station of the Central Railway. Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport is about six miles
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Lima Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- Archeological Sites
Sites such as Huallamarca and Pucllana, under excavation, are in the modern districts of San Isidro and Miraflores. Tours can be arranged.
- The Cathedral
On the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, with silver-covered altars surrounded by fine woodwork, has mosaic covered walls bearing the coats of arms of Lima and Pizarro. In a small chapel (first on the right from the entrance) is a glass coffin containing what has been said to be the remains of Pizarro, although subsequent research indicates his remains lie in the crypt. Free guided tours are available in English, with tipping in order.
Plaza de Armas.
- Churches and Monasteries
Apart from the cathedral, other churches of note near the Plaza de Armas are La Merced and its monestary (in the Plazuela de la Merced, Union y Huancavelica) where the first mass in Lima was said, and where San Martin declared independence on July 28, 1821. Santo Domingo (on Jr. Camana ) has an urn in one of the altars with the remains of Santa Rosa de Lima (1586-1617), first saint of the new world. San Francisco (Jr. Lampa, corner of Ancash) is a baroque structure with mudejar ceilings finished in 1674. Its monastery is famed for Sevillian tile work and the catacombs under the church and part of the monastery are well worth touring. Many, if not most, churches in Lima are closed to visitors on Sunday.
- District of Barranco
Not to be mistaken for Barranca (which is north of Lima), Barranco is south of Miraflores and has many artists living along the beach. The Puente de los Suspiros (bridge of sighs) leads to the Malecon, with excellent bay views. Barranco rocks at night with excellent bars, restaurants and live music spots. The less than an hour walk from Miraflores to Barranco along the Malecon showcases lovely summer sunsets.
- District of Chorrillos
After Barranco, the next development along the coast is Chorrillos, a fashionable resort with boating and a cliff promenade. Hacienda La Villa, an old Spanish hacienda, on occasion has dancing to salsa. On down the beach is a fish market and the Playa Agua Dulce beach. Beyond Chorrillos is La Herradura, another beach resort area with assorted restaurants and a private club that is open to tourists.
- District of Miraflores
As the largest, most important suburb of Lima with excellent shops and first class hotels and restaurants, the route to Miraflores extends to the sea. At the end of Av. Mcal Benavides (also called Av. Diagonal) there is a park in a shopping center with an excellent view of the Lima coastline from Chorrillos to La Punta. The Mcal Necochea clifftop park overlooks the Waikiki Club, favored among surfers. Parque Kennedy, off Av. Diagonal has an artist and craft market with concerts many evenings. Calle San Ramon, opposite Parque Kennedy off Av. Diagonal is closed to traffic and lined with many pizzerias.
- Fortaleza de Paramonga
This adobe fortress was constructed during the Inca empire.
On the North Pan American Highway.
- Green Coast
This seaside stretch, suitably green in summer, crosses six districts and is dotted with parasails and hang-gliders.
- Lima Beaches
In summer (late December through April), beaches are crowded on weekends with concerts and other organized activity. By world health standards, waters of the entire bay are considered unsuitable for swimming, although many surfers ignore such risks. Strong Pacific currents also pose threats. The Parque Salazar in Miraflores attracts throngs for concerts. Other beaches (again, great for sunbathing, but not for swimming) include Las Senoritas, Las Caballeros, Punta Hermosa, Punta Negra, San Bartolo, Chilca and Leon Dormido.
- Lima Cricket & Football Club
The club has extensive athletic facilities for games of football, rugby, cricket, squash, swimming, snooker and other activities. The restaurant and pub provide a friendly place to meet similarly sports-minded locals.
Justo Vigil 200, Magdalena del Mar. (01) 264-0027
Some 14,000 feet high in the Andes, this stone forest showcases erosions on the rocks with easily identifiable forms of animals and humans. Tours can be arranged.
- Museo de la Nacion
A newer anthropological and archaeological museum is in the big Banco de la Nacion building, with exhibits of the aboriginal races of Peru along with explorations of Spanish influence on Peruvian history and displays from almost every ruin in Peru. Concerts take place on Sundays and there is a lecture almost every evening.
Javier Prado Este 2465. (01) 476-9875
- Museo de Oro
The underground gold museum, with the private collection of Miguel Mujica, includes pre-Columbian gold, silver and bronze, ceramics, weavings, mummies (one skull has a set of pink quartz teeth), etc. Upstairs is an arms collection from Spanish colonial times. In the garden are quality craft shops.
Av. de Molina 1110. (01) 435-0791
- Museo Historico Militar
A canon brought by Pizarro along with a flag flying during the last Spanish stand in the fortress are among the exhibits. There are also remains of a plane in which Peruvian pilot Jorge Chavez made the first crossing of the Alps from Switzerland to Italy. (He died when the plane crashed at Domodossola in September, 1910. )
Parque Independencia, in Real Felipe Fortress, Calao. (01) 429-0532
- Museo Nacional de Antropologia and Arqueologia
The Pueblo Libre district northwest of Miraflores, the old Museo Nacional de Antropologia and Arqueologia has Peru's most extensive collection of pre-Columbian artifacts including 8,000-year-old tools, granite obelisks of the Chavin culture and weavings of Paracas. Ceramics reflect such civilizations as the Moche, Chimu and Inca.
Plaza Bolivar, Pueblo Libra. (01) 463-5070
- Museo Naval
Admission is free at this museum with paintings, model ships, and uniforms.
Av. Jorge Chavez 121, off Plaza Grau, Callao.
- Museo Rafael Larco Herrera
This is the Chiclin pottery museum brought from Trujillo, with the greatest number of exhibits stemming from the Mochica period (AD 400-800). Also represented are the Cupisnique period (back to 1,000 BC), and the Nasca, Chimu and Inca periods. A collection of pre-Columbian weaving includes a sample of two-ply yarns with 398 threads to the inch and a ceramic erotica section illustrates the lack of inhibition among ancient Peruvian artisans.
Plaza Bolivar 1515. (01) 461-1312
- Palacio Torre Tagle
Because Foreign Ministry offices are located here, the public is limited to courtyard and patio views of this elegant mansion, built in 1735. Even so, this allows glimpses of tiled ceilings, carved columns, and a 16th century carriage.
Ucayali 363. (01) 427-3860
- Plaza de Armas
A visit to the Plaza de Armas yields access to the Palacio de Gobierno, the Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace, the Municipalidad and the Club Union. The central post office is opposite the visitors' entrance to the Government Palace, and running along two sides are a pair of arcades with shops, the Portal de Escribanos and Portal de Botoneros. A bronze fountain in the center dates from 1650. Lima's main shopping street, the Jr. de La Union, runs to the Plaza de Armas.
- Teatra Seguro
Most professional plays are staged at the Teatro Segura (C. Huancavelica, block 2); orchestral and ballet performances are at the Teatro Municipal (Jr. Ica, block 3); Teatro Cabana (in the Parque de la Exposicion) has progressive theater. The Sun edition of El Comericio publishes all cinema and theater details.