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Lima on the Pacific Coast

Sightseeing in the capital and the rest of Peru

By Rasma RaistersPublished 7 months ago 7 min read

The capital of Peru, Lima lies on the arid Pacific coast. It is one of South America’s largest cities.

Plaza de Armas also known as Plaza Mayor is a broad square and the historical center of Lima. Even though most of the buildings from the original city were lost in an earthquake in 1746 there is an original structure remaining – the bronze fountain in the center, built in 1651. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The square is surrounded by the Archbishop’s Palace, the Casa del Oidor, and the Palacio del Gobierno, the official residence of the president. It was built on the spot where Jose San Martin declared the Independence of Peru on July 28, 1821. On weekends at noon, you can see the changing of the guard.

The pedestrian-only Jiron de la Union leading from Plaza de Armas to Plaza San Martin is a mix of old and new buildings. You can see the La Merced church which was completed in the late 1700s.

Casa de Aliaga is one of the oldest and best-preserved colonial mansions in South America. It has been occupied by the Aliaga family since 1535, handed down through 17 generations, making it the oldest home in South America owned and occupied by a single family. By advanced reservation, you can get a guided tour to see colonial-style furnishing from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Lima’s Cathedral dominates the east side of the Plaza de Armas. This cathedral was designed after the cathedral in Seville, Spain. There is an impressive carved choir, a carving of Jesus in the chapel of St. John the Baptist, and the altars in the ornate Spanish Baroque style known as churrigueresque. A chapel that has been decorated with mosaics has the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima. At the back of the cathedral, you’ll find a small Museum of Religious Art. In the courtyard is a tea room in which you can relax.

Convento de San Francisco is best known for the catacombs, containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima’s first cemetery. Below the church, there is a maze of narrow hallways, lined on both sides with bones. In one area, a large round hole is filled with bones and skulls that have been arranged in a geometrical pattern.

The library on the upper level has thousands of antique books and the monastery has an impressive collection of religious art. There is a mural of the Last Supper that depicts the apostles dining on a guinea pig, with a devil standing next to Judas. This is one of the city’s best-preserved colonial churches.

The neighborhood of Miraflores is located on cliffs overlooking the ocean, just south of central Lima. It has a mix of modern glass-and-steel commercial buildings, old colonial homes, and plenty of green space. Here you will find top-of-the-line shops and restaurants serving the “New Peruvian” cuisine. You can see hang gliders gliding off of the cliffs above the water.

Museo Amano is home to a private collection of Peruvian ceramics and textiles all arranged chronologically. Here Pre-Columbian cultures are well represented. The museum is best known for its impressive collection of textiles from the Chancay culture of the northern coast. Tours have to be booked in advance.

Huaca Pucllana is a pyramid-shaped temple right in the heart of Miraflores. It was built of adobe and clay bricks and formed in seven staggered platforms. The pyramid was built by The Lima Culture that developed on the central coast of Peru between AD 200 and AD 700. The area is divided into two sections, one appears to have been used for offerings of fish, while the other appears to have been administrative. Tours of the complex must be taken with a guide.

Museo de la Nacion or National Museum is the largest museum in Lima. Here you can explore Peru’s ancient history and get an understanding of Peruvian culture. The museum covers the entire archeological history of Peru, from its first inhabitants to the Inca Empire. There are exhibits of ceramics and textiles as well as scale models of such archeological sites as Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines. Most of the displays are labeled and described in English and Spanish.

Santo Domingo is a church and monastery that was built in 1540. It is one of the oldest and most historic in Lima. Here visitors can find the relics of Saint Rose of Lima, San Juan Masias, and Saint Martin de Porres, the first black saint in the Americas. The statue of Saint Rose was given to Santo Domingo by Pope Clement X. The monastery is best known for its tile mosaics which depict the life of St. Dominic. Inside the cloister, you’ll find a lovely garden.

Exploring Peru

The amazing Inca City of Machu Picchu sits high upon a ridge, 300 meters above the Urubamba River. The ruins here are impressive with an incredible backdrop of steep, lush, and cloud-shrouded mountains. The city was discovered in 1911. Visitors can choose to hike the Inca Trail or see the route by train.

Take a wonderful trip to Lake Titicaca where the blue waters are surrounded by rolling hills and traditional small villages. The lake sits 3,820 meters above sea level and is known for being the highest navigable lake in the world.

The best way to enjoy the lake is to take a boat trip to the islands and surrounding villages. One of the main tourist attractions is the Uros Floating Islands or Islas Flotantes where there are small communities of Uros Indians.

These are man-made islands that have been created for tourism but also offer a look into a traditional way of life. The main islands are Isla Taquile and Isla Amantani. The main gateway to Lake Titicaca is the city of Puno.

Colca Canyon or Canon del Colca was once thought to be the deepest canyon in the world. The canyon reaches a depth of 3,400 meters as a winding river runs through it. Once home to ancient civilizations, the stone terracing along the canyon walls dates back to 800 AD.

See the mysterious Nazca lines. These are huge images on the desert floor and were discovered by planes flying over the area in the 1920s. From the air, people can see 70 different plant and animal drawings. There are also many lines and geometrical shapes. Among the most notable huge figures are a lizard 180 meters long and a condor with a 130-meter wingspan. Other drawings include a monkey, hummingbird, killer whale, and spider.

Cantalloc Aqueducts are located four km from Nazca. They were designed to provide a year-round water source for the area. Some are still used by farmers.

The lovely Sacred Valley has many Inca ruins. Here you'll find the towns of Picac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo.

If you want to explore the Amazon then Puerto Maldonado is the starting point. From here you can get into the hot humid jungles and see wild animals like caimans, capybara, monkeys, parrots, turtles, and piranhas.

The oasis resort of Huacachina on the outskirts of Ica is a great place to explore. The surrounding area has a lagoon with huge sand dunes. People come here to sandboard. You can also enjoy the landscape by renting a dune buggy.

The Islas Ballestas are home to many birds, large colonies of sea lions, pelicans, penguins, and dolphins. There are boat tours available from the town of Pisco.

Candelabra is a hillside geoglyph that can be seen from the coast.

The Paracas Peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean is located south of Pisco. It is home to the Reserva Nacional Paracas with a huge variety of wildlife like seabirds, sea lions, otters, and the endangered Humboldt penguins.

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About the Creator

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs on Wordpress. Please follow me on Twitter.

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Comments (2)

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  • Alex H Mittelman 7 months ago

    Peru sounds fun! I love the pictures too! Great work! Maybe I’ll go now!

  • Lutus magey7 months ago

    Grat work fantastic :)

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