The Capitals of the World: Lima
Lima is the largest city of Peru and its capital, the urban area covering about 800 km2 and is located on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the valleys of the rivers Lurín, Chillón and Rímac, also being the fifth largest city in Latin America and known as the Lima Metropolitan Area, together with the seaport of Callao.
Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador founded Lima in 1535 under the original name of “La Ciudad de los Reyes” translated as the city of Kings and according to the early Spanish chronicles the name of Lima comes from an oracle in the Rímac valley known as “limaq” or “talker” that not even the Spanish could replace it.
Today, Lima is a place brimming with history and culture and this is evident especially in the survival colonial streets found in the city’s center; in 1988 the historic center made up of the districts Rimac and Lima was declared by UNESCO as a part of the World Heritage Site, with it’s spectacular buildings such as the Palace of Torre Tangle, the Monastery of San Francisco, the Covenant of Santo Domingo or the Cathedral.
The city develops and modernizes slowly and in the last few years the shopping scene, the residential areas, as well as the hotel infrastructure, of Lima has become more sophisticated and diverse.
You may as well start your visit in Lima in the Jockey Plaza, opened in 1997 and being located within the perimeters of a former race course and containing some of the most exclusive stores in whole Lima but also shops with goods bought are reasonable prices.
In the Larcomar Shopping Center you can enjoy a beautiful view of the beach while the largest variety of art crafts in Peru, famous world-wide for their quality, especially the silverwork, can be found in the district Petit Thouars Avenue with several Artisan’s Markets or in the Gran Mercado Inca, located in the Avenida la Marina.
To visit Lima’s most important historical locations start your journey in the surrounding areas of the capital, popular for the marks left behind by old civilizations such as the Wari or the Chavín.
The Huaca de Pucllana it is said to be an oracle and an old feudal administration, where people from all the parts of the country came to seek for answers to the problems in their lives and the influence of this Riman man-oracle was so great that even the name of Lima was inspired by him.
The Huaca Huallamarka is found in the San Isidro district and this structure is reminiscent of similar ones left behind by the Aztecs because it has the shape of a truncated pyramid with a ramp rising from the ground, but built on a smaller scale than the ones from Mexico. The huaca museum located close by is the resting place of the “Long-haired mummy” or the “Momia de los Cabellos Largos”. Along the Carretera Central de Lima you can find the site of the interesting constructions known as “Puruchuco” and the museum that houses the mummy of the “Señor de Puruchuco”.
Pachacamac is situated at Kilometre 31 of the old Southern Pan-American Highway, in Lurín and is the religious center of the Wari Empire; the complex has remains from ancient cultures such as the Huaca de Adobitos but also Inca constructions such as the Acllawasi or the Casa de las Escogidas and the Templo del Sol, located at the highest point of the hill and looking out to the sea.
In the Colonial Avenue you can find the Carmen de la Legua Church, built in the beginning of the 18th century and housing the image of the Virgen de Carmen.
Between the navel lighthouse and the port stands the Royal Felipe Fort built in the 18th century by the Spanish and declared a National Monument in 1952; the port is also a great place to see the Islands of El Fronton and the former pirate refuge, the San Lorenzo Island.
Lima is not only a great place for archeological and cultural visits but also a place for fun and how can we forget of mentioning the beautiful beaches of Lima and its Costa Verde or the Green Coast, skirting all the principal beach locations. These beaches have a regular flow of waves making them perfect for sports such as surfing but they are also rocky and the most popular ones can be found in the district of Miraflores.
Every year, on May 3rd, in Punta Hermosa beach resort takes place the traditional Festival of the Cross and on May 5th, in the Pacaran district of the province of Cañete, the Pisco Festival is held. The Señor de los Milagros Procession is one of the most transcendental religious events in the whole country and on the 28th of July the independence of Peru is celebrated every year.
Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport is the base for the largest cargo hub in the continent and is the fourth largest air hub in South America; the port of Callao concentrates nearly all of the maritime transport of the metropolitan area. The public transportation system is characterized by the lack of formality and includes the Lima Metro line, buses, microbuses, combis or the rather cheap taxis; another important feature is the fact that Lima’s road network is based mostly on large divided avenues rather than freeways.11