More than just the Capital of Peru
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Lima is the capital of Peru but is often skipped by travellers. Most tourists go straight to Cusco and Machu Picchu for example. This is a shame because this city is perfect for an introduction to the country if you have just arrived. These are the sights of Lima. And recommendations for great excursions, tours and accommodations to spend the night.
When you travel to Peru, Lima is almost always the place where you arrive in the country. Especially if you are travelling to the country for the first time, it is an introduction to the culture and Peruvian cuisine. I deliberately stayed in Lima for a few days to see what this capital has to offer.
The city has a long history, which you can still see. In the historic centre, you will find more than 1,500 Moorish balconies. It is one of the remnants of the past, including the Spaniards, who set foot in 1532. The group of Spanish conquistadors was led by Francisco Pizarro. He led the Inca ruler Atahualpa into an ambush and searched for a suitable place to establish his capital.
The Cathedral of Lima is the most important church in Peru. It is located in the Plaza Mayor. The explorer Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima, is buried here. He ruthlessly tried to eliminate the Inka people. The tomb and a copy of his bones can be seen in the cathedral. Also, visit the catacombs at the back of the immense church where countless rich people are buried. In addition, you will find no less than 15 chapels full of art. You have to pay a small entrance fee for your visit.
Address: Plaza Mayor
The most impressive square in Lima is the Plaza Mayor. Where you can walk around and marvel at the architecture. On the impressive square are numerous historic government buildings, but also the palace of the Archbishop of Lima and the cathedral. Keep in mind that the square can be closed if there is a demonstration. And that is not uncommon in Lima.
The famous boulevard winds along the coast of Miraflores. If you go for a walk you will meet many couples, but also many athletes and people who walk their dogs. There are also several bars, which are especially popular at sunset. The boulevard is often pleasantly busy, even on a cloudy day.
If the wind is right you will see countless paragliders flying off the steep cliffs at Miraflores. They use the thermals to fly. You too can book this excursion online, so that you see Lima in a different way. From the air, the coast and the city behind it is very impressive. If you walk along the boulevard you will see them in the air.
You can fly along as a passenger, so you can see the view over the beach and the city itself. Of course, the weather has to be good for this. The most optimal time is with the sun and at the end of the day.
The lighthouse towers high above the boulevard. It stands on a beautiful point between trees and was long used as a beacon for shipping. Today it is mainly used for photos and as a landmark.
In the middle of the city is a unique pyramid made of clay bricks by the original inhabitants of Lima. Several Huacas built this so-called Lima culture in and around Lima. This Pre-Inca civilization lived from 100 AD to 650 AD.
The name Huaca originates from the local Quechua language and indicates a sacred place. Huaca Pucllana is the most famous. It is a special contrast in the middle of the city to see a pyramid. The complex once served as an important ceremonial and administrative centre. The large main pyramid has seven levels and is made almost entirely of handmade bricks.
Address: Avenida Gral. Borgoño cuadra 8, Miraflores
Miraflores is the wealthy district of Lima. Here you will find many hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants. It is, therefore, the place where many tourists stay and eat or drink something after their visit to the historic city centre.
Miraflores has a local market with fruits, vegetables and more fresh things. It is great for shopping. I visited early in the morning for a fruit tasting for breakfast. There are plenty of well-known fruits on this market, but also many lesser-known fruits. I deliberately went with a local guide so that I could taste and learn a lot.
I tried: Tumbo (passion fruit family), cactus fruit, cacao, lucuma (a kind of sweet pumpkin), gold berry (has 6x as much vitamin C as an orange), pacae (a kind of edible tree), sweet granadilla and cherimoya. All of them are very healthy and almost all of them are very tasty and refreshing. The saleswomen have to laugh at that hungry tourist.
Kennedy Park, or rather Parque Kennedy, is known as the cat park of Peru. In this park in Miraflores, you can see countless cats. They sleep here, walk around at ease and are pampered by the inhabitants. It is a popular place for photos and videos.
Address: Diagonal, Miraflores
Most tourists look for a hotel in the Miraflores district so that they can also easily visit a nice restaurant or bar. The is a lot of choice, think of small-scale hotels, but also hostels and bed & breakfasts. You can easily move around the city by metro, as the locals do.