Lima was founded on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de Los Reyes (City of the Kings), by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. It became the capital and most important city for the Spanish Kingdom in the New World within the next years. It quickly became the epicenter of culture, religion, architecture, trade, fashion and more in the entire region, the new Hispanic world.
Lima is home to one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12 of 1551, during the Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas.
Lima is now the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area placing Lima as the 3rd largest city in the Americas by population. It has also become the main Hub in South America for the most important airlines in the continent due to its excellent location.
Peru is classified as upper middle income by the World Bank and is the 40th largest in the world by total GDP. It is also one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with a 2012 GDP growth rate of 6.3%. All of these facts make of Lima a true city of the kings, worth visiting whether you want to go on a romantic weekend or a shopping spree, culinary experience or cultural activities. Lima has it all and we have gathered for you our Top 10 Things To Do In Lima.
Plaza Mayor – This is where it all began. It is the old center of the city and where you still appreciate, see, hear, smell, and feel the XVI century Spanish Lima. A beautiful souvenir of those days is the bronze fountain from the 17th century placed in the middle of the square. They King of Spain ordered that the city should be built in the same way as all Spanish cities, like a chess board, and this square should be the starting point. It is surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima and the Municipal Palace.
Lima Cathedral – The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a Roman Catholic church right in front of the main square of Lima. Its facade has three large doorways and above them is the Peruvian seal. This beautiful cathedral contains within its walls 14 side chapels, the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador of Peru who laid the first stone and began its construction in 1535, among other pieces of art worth a visit.
Government Palace – This is the residence of every Peruvian president. It was originally built in 1535 for Francisco Pizarro. It was rebuilt in the 1920s after a fire. Aside from is beautiful architecture there is a daily, at change of the guard at 11:45am under the responsibility of the glorious Battalion of the Hussars of Junín.
The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru – It is located in the historic district of Pueblo Libre in front of Simon Bolivar Square. It contains more than 150 000 pieces that tell the entire history of Peru. It displays 11 000 pre-Hispanic metal pieces, 65 000 pre Inca and Inca ceramics and more.
Larco Museum – One of the best preserved and displayed collections in the entire country. In the 1950s, Rafael Larco ( owner of the collection) decided to move to Lima, and to transfer his museum to the capital. This museum is located in what used to be the Luna Cartland family house, a mansion built in 1700, which he renovated using the grille work, doors, columns, beams and corbels he was able to recover from the mansions of Lima’s aristocrats. The museum’s collection is divided in: Textiles Room, Sacrifice Ceremony Room, Ceremonial Vessels, Gold & Jewellery and Erotic Art.
Huaca Huallamarca – This incredible restored archeological site was inhabited by 3 different people in 3 different times in Peruvian History. What was once a Temple, cemetery and the center of a village in the year 200 AD it is now a museum which shows the entire process of its restoration as well as mummies and artifacts found in the site.
Parque El Olivar – This oasis of greenery, peace and beauty is the center of Lima’s most exclusive district, San Isidro. This beautiful park offers its visitors, romantic promenades, clean air and the remaining of what used to be an Olive tree forest. One can learn about Lima’s past and present in El Olivar: the old olive oil factory and the extraordinary mansions that surround the park showcase Lima’s aristocracy of yesterday and today.
LarcoMar – Lima’s most visited shopping center. Larcomar has indoor and outdoor areas and among its attractions are a cinema, bowling lanes, a food court, museum, tourist shops, Tony Roma’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, and Chili’s restaurants, book stores, clothing stores, and electronics stores. However, the highlight of this place is its location. LarcoMar was built right in front of the Pacific Ocean on the slopes of Lima’s cliffs. Summer or winter, day or night the view from LarcoMar is always breathtaking.
Magic Water Circuit – It opened its doors to the public on July 26, 2007 in what used to be the Park of the Reserve of Lima. It is the largest water fountain complex in the world with 13 magnificent different fountains with lights and music shows. A beautiful spot for all ages.
Cerro San Cristobal – Located across the Rimac River, it is the highest lookout in the city of Lima. This hill was considered a guardian by inhabitants of the Rimac valley before the Spaniards arrived in 1535. There are buses every 5 minutes to go up to the top from Lima’s Main Square. You can appreciate the entire city and enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets as it faces all 4 cardinals points.
Just So You Know…
- Lima is the second largest desert capital city after Cairo in Egypt.
- Lima is home to 1/3 of Peru’s population.
- Lima has 3 months of summer and 9 of winter.
- It takes 5 hours to drive across Lima from north to south or vice versa.
- If you spend New Year’s eve in Lima, do not be surprised if a friend gives you yellow underpants as a gift, it is a good luck charm.
- If you are in Lima between April and December and notice that the sky is always grey, do not panic. It is not going to rain. Lima is overcast most of the year. There are some 90 different micro-climates in Peru and cloudy is the one of Lima.
- Shopping: As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Lima is home to one of the best shopping experiences in the region. It has some of the most exclusive and famous stores in the world, privately owned boutiques, more than 30 shopping centers, at least 2 department stores in each of its 51 districts and more. In comparison to Europe and North America the over-all prices are very reasonable and visitors can buy here things such as Alpaca or Vicuna wool clothes or Gold & Silver jewellery of the highest quality and excellent prices. Among our favorite stores are KUNA for alpaca and vicuna; H. Stern for beautiful gold pieces with Peruvian motifs and designs & Ilaria for the best silver jewellery in the country.
- Get Some Culture:
- Gold Museum – The largest private collection of Gold artifacts in the world. Pre-Inca and Inca jewelry and mummies as well as beautiful textiles are part of the exhibition.
- Pedro de Osma Museum – a beautiful French style mansion in the bohemian district of Barranco is home to one of the most complete collection of the Cusco School of Arts, home furniture of Colonial times and a silver collection room.
- Inquisition Museum – This museum tells the story of the darkest episode of Spanish Colony: Peruvian Inquisition which lasted from 1570 until 1820. Torture devices and more are displayed in this 2 story museum.
- Grab A Bite: Speaking of Peruvian cuisine is speaking of colors and flavors collected along thounsands of years. Speaking of Peruvian cuisine is speaking of Pre-Incas, Incas, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, French, German and more. It is speaking of the Coast, the Andes and the Amazon. Peru’s gastronomy is not only one of the most diverse but one of the most delicious in the world. It is recognized by citizens of numerous countries and acknowledged by renowned Chefs. We must say that 2 of the top 50 restaurants in the world are in Lima: Central and Astrid & Gaston.
- Central – Chef Virgilio Martinez’s restaurant is one of the 50 top restaurants in the world. The integration of indigenous Peruvian ingredients into the restaurant’s menu has captivated Peruvians and foreigners alike.
- Astrid & Gaston – Explosion of colors and flavors made of this restaurant the best embassy of Peru in in almost every Latin American capital. A delicious and interesting fusion of past and present- Peruvian & French.
- La Huaca Puccllana – A restaurant located in a a beautifully restored archeological site. Have lunch or dinner contemplating thousands of years of history while tasting hundreds of years of flavors of the Peruvian Coastal Region with an Andean touch.
- Amaz – Directly From the Amazon Rainforest arrives to your table the best and most delicious fruits, vegetables, fish and more. The food accompanied by traditional decoration and music take you on a trip that you will never forget.
- Madam Tusan – China meets Peru in a way you have never seen. More than a 150 years of Chinese presence in Peru inspired our people to create a sublime fusion of cultures and ingredients.
- Rafael – Elegant, Gourmet, Delicious, Peruvian, Italian are just some of the words to describe Rafael. A romantic dinner or a business lunch could not have a better scenario than Rafael.