Lima – the Gateway to Peru

Lima – the Gateway to Peru

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What to See & Do
Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas is the center of the city, where in the days of Spanish rule, bullfighting contests were held. Circling the Plaza are some of the most important buildings in Lima dating back to the colonial period,  including the Spanish baroque cathedral with its impressive choir stalls, the baroque chapel of the Immaculate, a Christ statue made of ivory and the Museum of Religious Art and Treasures. The Governments Palace, which has been the headquarters of Peruvian Viceroys, Governors and Presidents since 1541 is the official residence of the President of the Republic and there is a daily changing of guard ceremony outside the palace that is a noteworthy tourist attraction.  The Hall City has a collection of historic documents including those relating to the Founding of Lima and the Independence of Peru in 1821.  The Plaza also houses the impressive Archbishops Palace. A bronze fountain stands in the middle of this square, bearing the coat of arms of the city.

National Museum
The National Museum has great exhibits showcasing the history of the country right through the many conquering cultures to the Inca period. The museum is well laid out and provides a terrific snapshot of the cultural heritage and richness of Peru.

Gold Museum
This fortress like building known locally as Museo de Oro Del Peru, houses treasures from the Inca period. There is an expansive collection of glittering gold jewelry and ceremonial objects including the famous golden Tumi, symbol of Peru. In addition, there is a massive range of artifacts – thousands of pre Inca masks, mummies, tapestries, and antique weapons.

Museo Rafael Larco Herrera
Boasting of the worlds largest collection of ceramics, this 18th century museum has close to 55000 pieces of pre Colombian ceramic pottery from the Moche dynasty, a people who lived in the north of Peru from 200 to 700 AD. This civilization was extremely unique in the sense that they used their pottery, not written words, to leave behind fascinating accounts of their religious beliefs, agricultural practices, music and means of transport.  The Moches also excelled in erotic pottery, depicting explicit, if down-to-earth and sometimes funny, erotic images that are displayed at the museums Erotic Hall.

Church of San Francisco
A stunning yellow and white building, the San Francisco cathedral is one of the more prominent of Limas colonial structures.  It was one of the very few buildings in Lima that managed to survive the devastation wreaked by the 1746 earthquake and is renowned for its underground catacomb that houses the remains of nearly 70000 people. There is an excellent library with works of the masters as well as a small museum containing the works of Van Dyck and Rueben.

Archaeological Sites
Machhu Pichhu may be the most famous ruins on the Peruvian tourist trail, but there are in excess of 30 other such sites in and around Lima. Huaca Pucllana, a temple from the pre Inca period is located in the trendy Mireaflores area, nestling comfortably among modern buildings.  Another temple called Huaca Huallamarca in San Isidro has been constructed entirely of mud bricks and has astonishingly stood the test of time for over 1500 years. To the south of Lima is the 200 year old Panchacamac with its pre Colombian pyramids and palaces that are definitely worth a dekko. It is a sacred site and pilgrimage spot and was formerly inhabited by a line of people much before the Incas.

Cruise to Palomino Islands
Close to Limas port, Callao, are the Palomino Islands that are inhabited by sea lions and other aquatic breeds. A 4 hour cruise from Lima will take you to these islands where you can swim with the sea lions.

Although Limas beaches are a far cry from the legendary waters of Rio de Janeiro, they are worth a visit just to people watch, hugely popular as they are with the locals. The shores of El Selincio and Punta Hurmosa have great seafood restaurants with excellent fresh ceviche.

The capital has the best selection of handicrafts in the country. So you might want to wait till you’re in Lima on your way home to get your hands on touristy finds. Lima is also famous for its alpaca pullover and scarves. For plenty of fun filled bargain shopping, head to the Central Market and the Artisans market for handicrafts at throwaway prices.  Traditional carpets known as tejidos, carvings on wood, jewelry are other must buys in Lima. Mireflores is the shopping district and a favorite with foreign visitors. One of the largest Lima shops for Peruvian artifacts is Peru Artifacts at the Larcomar Shoping Mall. The Jockey plaza is the newest and the biggest mall in Lima and has a restaurant, a movie theater and over 200 upscale shops.

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