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Discover the Real Lima

Posted: 8th October 2014 15:50

Lima, the megacapital city of Peru (and we mean mega – it’s actually a collection of smaller cities), has garnered something of a bad reputation over the years.  Many guides and reviews refer to it as aesthetically ugly, loud and ‘dirty’.  This is very misguided.  With its 43 districts and 9 million residents Lima is alluringly contrasting and varied from area to area.  On the one hand, it is a desert city, clinging to dusty cliffs, but on the other, it is an ultramodern, architecturally unique cluster of ‘islands’ right on the sea.

The city was established on the banks of the Rímac River in 1535, on Peru’s central coast.  The prolific Francisco Pizarro, a Spaniard who conquered the entire Incan Empire in the 16th Century, declared his establishment of Lima as one of the most important achievements of his life.

Limeños–as the locals are affectionately known – have a great affinity to fine cuisine.  Every September the city holds a food festival, while the Surquillo district is home to the Boulevard of Gastronomy, a mall selling the freshest Peruvian ingredients.  The city’s most famous dish is ceviche – raw fish, chili peppers and onions, all marinated in lime juice.  And don’t even think of going into a Lima bar without trying the national drink – the pisco sour, made of grape brandy, it’ll certainly put a few hairs on your chest!

Lima is often referred to as the Garden City, and it’s easy to see why, but the intricately carved wooden balconies on buildings like the House of Literature are equally as impressive.  You also cannot leave Lima without visiting some of its huacas (historical ruins), such as Pucllana Temple.  Traces of the city’s heritage can be found at the turn of each corner.  The catacombs of the Church of San Francisco and the quite bizarre special room of the Larco Museum, devoted entirely to erotic artefacts which disgusted the invading prudish Spanish, are also not to be missed.  

But two of the most intriguing and awe-inspiring sites of Lima are the Puente de los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs) and the Circuito Mágico del Agua (The Magic Water Circuit).  The former is a wooden foot bridge which runs over the Bohemian district – Barranco, the place to be for bars and restaurants.  The latter is a musically choreographed display of lights and water in the downtown area.  

So ignore the naysayers, Lima is the place to be for a quirky trip with plenty of variety!

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