Lima is an eccentric city. Full of life, hope. People lining the streets, vendors yelling at tourists, and military pressed up against a wall with AK-47’s and riot gear in hand. When you think of Peru, you think of llamas, artisan clothing markets, and, of course. Machu Picchu. At least, that’s what I thought before I arrived in this South American paradise.
But once I arrived in the metropolis that is Lima, I realized that Peru is so much more. Peru is the ancient culture of the Incan people. It is walking the cobblestone lined streets of Cuzco, and the smiling children that play on them.
When you fly into Lima, both the cheapest and most available international airport in the country to fly to, you want to catch a taxi to your hotel. Check in, get sorted, do what you have to do. Now, depending on what time you get in, you want to head to Museo Larco.
On the outside is a beautiful flower garden, something they are very well known for, and the main reason we went. With all colors of the rainbow in site, I tried to get as many photos of flowers as I could. Granted, I went a little overboard.
After enjoying my first flora in Peru, we went inside the museum. With it’s classic displays of Incan history, art and the life of Peruvian and Quechua people before the Spanish invasion was mesmerizing. The museum, in the Pueblo Libre district of the city of 8.5 million people, has a huge collection of Pre-Columbian art. After learning about the history of the country we knew so little about, we headed to Larcomar Shopping Center.
Larcomar is the largest mall in Lima. Right above the ocean and the beaches, the views are amazing. For a viewpoint, head over to the very edge, looking over the Pacific Ocean. If you want, you can also walk up the stairs to the upper overlook for slightly better photos. Be prepared for lots of people, though. Although spectacular during the day, the sunsets at or near Larcomar are colorful and beautiful to say the least. Try and head down here quickly for sunsets, and maybe have dinner beforehand at Mango’s for a delicious introduction to Peruvian cuisine.
After lunch at Larcomar, we headed to San Francisco Cathedral to see the catacombs that are filled with skulls and bones, formed into geometric figures. El Convento de San Francisco, the Spanish name of the cathedral, is a great place to visit. Aside from the catacombs and a church, it also contains a library, a monastery and a wide variety of vendors by the entrance.
A block away from San Francisco Monastery is Plaza Mayor, my personal favorite stop. The plaza contains a collection of vibrant architecture, surrounding you with yellow and pink hues. Along with that, it is home to the Presidential Palace, home and office to the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
While the Government Palace is on the North side of the plaza, on the East side is Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, or more simply, the Cathedral of Lima. El Catedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral built in the 1500’s, known most notably for its murals of all scenes you can think of in terms of the Bible. The cathedral also includes my favorite part that an artist put in during the 1800’s, a wall of hundreds of the faces Jesus has taken on throughout the years, questioning why no one seems to be able to get the right face.
Lima turned out to be a wonderful city, and certainly worth more than a day. Sadly, I didn’t have that luxury. Try and fit as much as you can in, but Plaza Mayor is worth at least a few hours. Make sure you include it when you are next in Lima!