Lima is the capital of Peru and is situated on the mid-west coast of this archeologically rich country.
Getting To and From Lima
Lima is connected to the different coastal towns of Peru, and also the neighbouring countries of Chile and Ecuador, by the Pan-American Highway that runs along this vast continent from north to south. In the eastern direction The Central Highway runs east of Lima and connects the capital with the different mountain towns and the central jungle.
There are regular flights to the major cities of the world from Lima's Jorge Chávez International Airport which is situated 30 minutes from the city in the Callao Region.
History of Lima
The first inhabitants settled in this area around 10,000 BC. They were groups of nomadic hunters who traveled around the coast and valleys of today's Lima searching for animals, shellfish and other seafood which were the base of their diets. Around 200 BC Lima has already become culturally important since they were constructing pyramids from adobe and developing fine ceramics.
In the 8th Century the Wari culture influence arrived to the Lima area. At that time Cajamarquilla was constructed which was an urban centre of great importance along the coast. At the end of the Wari culture influence (1100 BC), two local areas became very important: Chancay - a prodigious culture of weavers and Pachacámac - the ceremonial centre of unquestionable prestige in the Andes.
The city of Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on the 18th of January 1535 and it was considered the capital of the Viceroy of all South America for almost three centuries. Because of Pizarro's decision to convert Lima into the capital of his rule, various Spanish authorities established their residences in the city. Its official name was the City of the Kings but over time people preferred to just call it Lima. According to some linguists the word Lima comes from the deformation of the river name Rímac, on which shores the city was founded. Others propose that the name comes from an ancient word used to refer to the of land of Taulichusco, a man who dominated the valley when the Spanish arrived.
In 1821 Lima became the Capital of the independent Peru. During the first decades of the existence of republic the area witnessed several political battles among the different leaders. The arrival of the 20th century required some renovation and the city grew and modernized rapidly, trying to catch up with the other major capitals of the world. In 2002 Lima was divided into the Region of Lima and Metropolitan Lima - the capital of the country.
Geography and Climate
The city has a dry and semi-warm climate. The maximum annual average temperature is 21.97ºC (71.4ºF) and the minimum 17ºC (62.7ºF). Nevertheless, the temperature increases a little during the years when the El Niño Phenomenon appears.
Minimum altitude: 3 meters above sea level (Ancón)
Maximum altitude: 861 meters above sea level (Chosica)
The capital of Peru was founded by Francisco Pizzaro in 1535 where the "Plaza Mayor" (or Main Square) is today. Behind this square is the Alameda Chabuca Grande where it is possible to taste some typical Creole dishes and enjoy various different performances. It also offers important examples of the colonial style architecture. The historical center is also known as the "Damero de Pizzaro" (Chessboard of Pizzaro) because of the distribution of the streets in a rigid chessboard checkered pattern. This area has been declared a part of UNESCO Historical Heritage since 1991.
Lima's Main Square (Plaza Mayor Lima)
This used to be the center of the old colonial city. Around the plaza's borders are the Cathedral of Lima, the Government Palace, and the Provincial Municipality of Lima. The central part of this area is dominated by a fountain made of bronze dating back to the 17th century.
Cathedral of Lima (Catedral de Lima)
The first church of Lima originally occupied this spot and then later the Cathedral was built to replace it. The interior is austere though you can find some real historical jewels such as the Baltasar Noguera choir loft, various side altars and the remains of Francisco Pizarro. You can also visit the Museum of Religious Art which has an important collection of paintings, sculptures, chalices and vestments.
Plaza Mayor de Lima. Tel: (511) 427-9647.
Open: Mon - Sat 9am - 4.30pm
Government Palace (Palacio del Gobierno)
This palace used to be the residence of Francisco Pizarro (1535) who had it constructed on the land which was occupied by Taulichusco - an indian chief of the Rímac valley. Since then, the palace has been the center of political power in Peru. Unfortunately the original residence was destroyed by fire and it had to be rebuilt during the 1920's. There are now numerous gardens and carefully decorated salons with valuable pieces of furniture dedicated to the most important figures of Peruvian history. Something worth watching is the change of guards at the palace which is performed daily at 11.45am by the famous Húsares of Junín Battalion in the Patio of Honor.
Plaza Mayor de Lima. Tel: (511) 311-3908.
Open: Mon - Fri 8.30am - 1pm / 2pm - 5pm
Church and Convent of San Francisco (Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco)
A set of buildings dating back to the seventeen century with classical architecture which includes the church, convent, and piazza. The front part of the main temple has been decorated with elaborate carved stone with dramatic Corinthian columns. The facade has a distinguished open cornice with arches where you can admire the Immaculate Virgin of Concepcíon. The cloisters are decorated with tiles and houses the Museum of Viceroy Art. There you can visit the impressive underground catacombs (galleries) which used to be a cemetery during the colonial period.
Jr. Ancash cdra. 3. Ph: (511) 427-1381, anex 111.
Open: Mon - Sun 9.30am - 5.50pm
Matías Maestro General Cemetery (Cementerio General Presbítero Matías Maestro)
This was the first official cemetery in Lima and was inaugurated in 1808 by the Viceroy Abascal. The designer was the well-known master builder and priest Matías Maestro. There are more than 766 mausoleums in the neoclassic style and among them are fascinating statues and monuments inspired by Saints and theological virtues. There are guided night visits of this cemetery on the last Thursday of every month (except December).
Jr. Ancash, cdra. 16-20. Ph: (511) 385-2084 & 385-2117 (annex 233).
Open: Mon - Fri 8am - 6pm.
Park of the Wall (Parque de la Muralla)
This park contains a restored section of the old wall that surrounded the city of Lima. It was originally constructed in the 17th century to protect the city from attacks by pirates and enemies of the Spanish Crown. You will find a statue of the founder of Lima, the conqueror Francisco Pizarro here. There is also a museum about the archeological excavations and things found from this area.
Jr. Amazonas cdra. 1 (with block of 1 Jr. Abancay). Free entrance.
Open: Mon - Sun 8am - 10pm
Church and Convent of La Merced (Iglesia y Convento de La Merced)
Here there are Colonial buildings dating back to sixteen century with the highlight being the church with its granite facade dating from 1687. The roof of the church is elegantly decorated with figures made of plaster. In the interior of the church is an ornate main altar in the neoclassical style which is dominated by the figures of the Virgin of Merced and a carving of Saint Michael the Archangel. There is also the chapel of Friar Pedro Urraca that contains a roughly carved wooden cross which, according to legend, he used to escape from a demon.
Jr. De la Unión No.621. Ph: (511) 427-8199.
Open: Mon - Sun 8am - 12am / 4pm - 8pm
House of Aliaga (Casa Aliaga)
An adobe building constructed on the foundation of a pre-colonial building. The main facade has a balcony from the time of the republic. The most beautiful aspect of the house are the gardens where the first one is decorated with 18th century Italian marble while the second one is decorated with an antique bronze fountain. The house has been in the hands of the Aliaga family since the time of its' construction (1535) until today. Currently, it is mainly used for different cultural events.
Jr. de la Unión No. 224. Ph: (511) 427-7736.
Open: Mon - Sun 9.30am - 4pm
Church of San Pedro (Iglesia de San Pedro)
This church dates back to 1636 and was constructed according to (and inspired by) the Jesuit building in Rome. The church has three naves and is the only church in Rome with three entrances, a characteristic reserved only for cathedrals. Its most impressive aspects are the magnificent baroque altarpiece and all the central naves are covered in paintings and ceramic tiles. There is also a set of decorative carvings of some of the founders of religious orders and a painting that represents the coronation of the Virgin by Bernardo Bitti.
Jr. Ucayali No 451. Ph:(511) 428-3017.
Open: Mon - Sun 9.30am - 11.45am / 5pm - 6pm
The Palace of Torre Tagle (Palacio de Torre Tagle)
This is a two-storey building whose construction began in 1735 by order of the Marquis of Torre Tagle who was the treasurer of the Royal Spanish Army. It is considered to be one of the best examples of residential architecture of 18th century Lima. Its highlights are carved wooden balconies, a baroque chapel decorated with mirrors and colonial paintings and its facade is elaborately carved in stone. Today the palace is the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Jr. Ucayali No. 323 Ph: (511) 311-2400 / 311-2769.
Open: Previous permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs necessary.
Church and Convent of Santo Domingo (Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo)
This is a three naves church with a majestic dome and beautiful choir seats carved in cedar wood. The walls of the convent are decorated with tiles from Sevilla (Spain) and in the main hall you can admire the baroque carvings. Here, in the year 1551 the first National University of San Marcos was founded. It was the first university founded by the Spanish crown in all of the Americas.
Intersection of Jirones Conde de Superunda and Camaná Ph: (511) 427-6793.
Open: Mon - Sat 9am - 12.30pm and 3pm - 6pm; Sun and holidays 9am - 1pm
Church and Monastery of Santa Rosa of Lima (Iglesia y Monasterio de Santa Rosa de Lima)
These buildings consisting of the church and sanctuary were constructed between the 17th and 18th century right next to the house where Santa Rosa of Lima - the patron saint of Lima, America and the Philippines - was born and lived. The most important feature is a hermitage and oratory which she constructed herself in 1614. There are also lemon trees planted by her own hand and a 19m deep well where legend says she threw her chastity belt key into as a sign of her penitence.
Av. Tacna block 1, four blocks from the main square (Plaza Mayor). Ph: (511) 425-1279.
Open: Mon - Sun 9am - 1pm and 3pm - 6pm
Church of the the Nazareths (Iglesia de las Nazarenas)
This church was constructed on old land in the colonial suburb of Pachacamilla in the second half of the 18th century. The central part of the altar has been formed by two decorated and grooved Tuscan pillars which have a baroque frontage. Inside there is an image of the Lord of Miracles painted in oil on a rough adobe wall.
According to legend, this image of Christ was painted here in the 17th century by a black slave. This wall was the only one that remained standing after the earthquakes of 1655, 1687 and 1746. Every October a large procession goes through the streets of Lima with a copy of this image of 'Cristo Morado'.
Intersection of Jr. Huancavelica and Av. Tacna. Ph: (511) 423-5718.
Open: Mon - Sun 7am - 12pm and 4pm - 8.30pm
This park contains monuments that date back to the celebration of the hundred years of independence. Among attractions there is the Pavilion of Morisco, the Seismograph, the Chinese fountain, the Botanical Garden and Japanese Garden. It also has a place dedicated to entertainment and scenic art (the Puppet Island, Open Air theatre and Theatre La Cabaña).
Intersection of Av. 28 de Julio and Garcilaso de la Vega. Ph: (511) 423-0133.
Open: Mon - Sun 9am - 8pm.
Jr. Paruro, Barrios Altos is one of the largest Chinese districts in all of South America. Meandering around its streets you will learn about customs and products of this thousands of year old culture. One of the highlights of this area is its food. There are many Chinese restaurants located all around the city called "chifas" and you can see the Chinese influence in many Peruvian dishes. Architectonically the Monumental Gate of Capón street is one of the best places to visit in the area.
Church and Convent of the Barefooted
Alameda de los Descalzos s/n Ph: (511) 481-0441.
Open: Tue - Sun 10am - 6pm
This convent was founded at the end of the 16th century. It is characterized by a quiet and roomy environment where there are a few valuable paintings of the Lima, Cusco and Quito Schools.
The House of San Marcos (La Casona of San Marcos)
Architectural complex constructed in the 17th century to serve as a Jesuit internship of San Antonio Abad. Later it was turned into Royal Convictorio of San Carlos and then into the University of San Marcos. It has a baroque chapel, a neoclassical salon for debates, five colonial gardens with archery as well as exposition halls.
Av Nicolás de Piércola 1222, Parque Universitario, Lima. Ph: 619-7000, anex 5206.
Open: Mon - Sat 9am - 6pm
San Cristóbal Hill Lookout
In pre-Hispanic times this hill was considered "Apu" or sacred mountain of the ancient inhabitants of the Rímac river valley. One of the first actions of the conqueror Francisco Pizzaro in 1536 was to take over this mountain and place a cross on the top of it. There is a procession to the top of this hill on the first Sunday of every May. On a clear day you can see the whole city and also the islands situated off the coast.
Access to the hill is from Alameda de los Descalzos.
Museum Open: Mon - Sun 9am - 3pm
Plaza de Toros de Acho
This bullfighting arena was constructed in 1760 by request of Viceroy Amat and Juniet. Acho is the oldest bullfighting arena in America and the third oldest in the world. It was completely reconstructed in 1946 and it maintains its original form until today. Inside there is the bullfighting museum which has a collection of clothing, swords, capes and paintings of famous fighters. In October the Taurino Market of the Miraculous Lord takes place here.
Jirón Hualgayoc 332, Rímac. Taurino Museum. Tel: (511) 482-3360.
Open: Mon - Sat 10am - 6pm; Sun - previous reservation necessary.
A tourist and hotel area, this is the modern commercial zone of Lima filled with theatres, cinemas and art galleries as well as many restaurants from fast food to elegant bistros. There are also some beautiful parks and green areas that break up the city streets like Kennedy Park where artists, painters and folklore music groups gather. This district is a fairly safe neighborhood and a good place to stay while visiting the city.
Huaca Pucllana or Juliana
Constructed before the Incan empire, these adobe buildings were one of the most important ceremonial and administrative centers of the pre Incan culture. It is in same style which was developed between 200 and 700 AD in the geographic area of the Chancay, Chillón, Rímac and Lurín valleys. Sometimes different musical performances and events take place here. There is also a museum with various pieces excavated in the area.
Gral. Borgoño, cdra. 8 s/n. Phone Fax: (511) 445-8695.
Open: Wed - Mon 9am - 5pm
San Isidro District
This is one of the more beautiful areas of Lima with a large amount of green areas mingling in with modern constructions. It got its name from one-thousand-year-old trees which are still standing in the parks. San Isidro has recently been converted into an important tourist and business centre with modern buildings, restaurants and conference centers.
This is a temple in the form of pyramid which dates back to the times of the beginning of the region with some of the most ancient known cultures in Peru. The place is a cultural melting pot of cultures like the Wari and Inca cultures. It houses a Museum of the area where they show small pieces from local excavations.
Intersection of Av. El Rosario and Av Nicolás de Rivera. Ph: (511) 222-4124.
Museum Open: Tue - Sun 9am - 5pm
Pueblo Libre District
There is a small historical centre where you can appreciate a diversity of buildings and monuments. Among them is the Church of Santa María Magdalena with its stunningly beautiful ornamental interior.
You will find the National Museum of Anthropology, Archeology and History in this district (see Museums in Lima).
San Miguel District
Zoological Park of the Legends
This park offers countless numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians. The animals are divided by their natural region of Peru: coast, mountains and jungle. There are also restaurants, coffee shops and picnic areas.
Ac La Marina Block 24 Ph: (511) 464-4264
Open: Mon - Sun 9am - 5:30pm
This is an old seaside resort that was a gathering spot for Lima's aristocracy at the beginning of the 20th century. Today it is the number one bohemian district of Lima, with cozy houses, musical and cultural corners, discos, pubs and cafes.
Cuadra 3 of Av Grau.
This park was inaugurated on the 3rd of February 1898. You can appreciate Carrara marble statues like "The Danaide", Venus or Nymph. In the surrounding area you will find a library and the Iglesia de la Santísima Cruz Church.
The Bridge of Whispers
This bridge was constructed in 1876 to connect the Ayacucho and Ermita streets. It is a typical meeting spot for lovers.
This lookout is located in front of the sea behind the Church of La Ermita de Barranco (The Hermitage of Barango). It offers a magnificent view of the Bajada de los Baños - the access way to the sea and also a great viewpoint for sunsets.
Santiago de Surco District
This district still preserves samples of historical and cultural patrimony. The highlight of this area is its historical centre and also its gastronomical and wine tradition.
You will find the Gold & Weapons Museum here (see Museums in Lima)
Park of Friendship (Parque de la Amistad)
It has a train station typical of those in the mountains with a steam locomotive dating back to 1926 and three wagons. This train goes through certain parts of the park. There is also an artificial navigable lake here.
Situated at the corner of Av. Caminos del Inca and Calle Las Nazarenas.
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