Lima is a beautiful city with a fantastic history that dates back to 1535 when the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city. Within 70 years Lima had harnessed the power and wealth of all trade at that time to become the most important city in the Americas. Today, Lima is a lively metropolis of nearly 9 million inhabitants, wonderful Peruvian cuisine and wonderfully historic churches, museums and monasteries whose architecture is recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN LIMA
- The Plaza Mayor (Main Square) in Lima has been many things over the centuries including a bull ring, place for execution during the holy inquisition and the place where Peruvians declared their independence in 1821. However, for over 300 years has stood the central bronze fountain and the Presidential Palace overlooking the square.
- The Presidential Palace offers some fantastic rooms including the Sevillan Room containing glazed tiles made in Spain and the Golden Hall, possibly the most impressive room with a vaulted ceiling, furniture in the style of Louise XIV and gold leaf covering almost the entire hall. The Pizarro Room is a colonial-styled living room containing the portrait of Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian hero and a thrown given by the Japanese emperor Akihito to Peru.
- Lima Cathedral, built in 1625 is also found on the Plaza Mayor and is a Roman Catholic cathedral that still retains its colonial structure and façade. The tomb of Francisco Pizarro lies here overlooked by gold-leafed altars and wonderfully carved wooden choir stalls. The cathedral also exhibits sculptures and oil paintings from both the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Over 300 years of Spanish occupation has also left many wonderfully preserved churches to be found throughout the city. San Francisco Church built in the 17th century houses an impressive library and a religious art museum while La Merced Church built in the following century is a great example of Spanish colonial architecture with impressive colonial oil paintings inside.
EATING OUT & NIGHTLIFE IN LIMA
Lima is a gastronomic delight if you like your food and if you’re not convinced, then the Fourth International Summit of Gastronomy Madrid Fusión in 2006 formally declared Lima as the "Gastronomy Capital of the Americas". Food is generally affordable, highly tasty and widely available from the many bars and restaurants. The Peruvian national dish is called ceviche and is sold in cevicherías. Ceviche is an acidic dish and many locals make it a rule not to eat it late in the day as it may upset the stomach, especially Western stomachs.
GETTING AROUND IN LIMA
Armed with a map, Lima should be easily navigable on foot and a little Spanish will go a long way when asking for directions. If travelling by taxi, always arrange the price beforehand and try to arrange the taxi from your hotel or by phone rather than hailing one on the street. There are also micro-buses and the metropolitano, a rapid bus transport system.
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