Wednesday, December 4, 2013

#744 Lima, Peru

Lima is a sprawling desert city on the Pacific coast, with a mountain backdrop and awesome mists and fog. It has a huge square at the historic center, and many other famous districts with their own character, but getting between them can be a bit of an ordeal in traffic. An urban settlement for the Lima, Wari, Ichisma, and Inca cultures, it was settled long before Spanish conquistador Pizarro arrived and planned his city in 1535.

The city has experienced a varied past, rising from boom town to quiet administrative center only to return again. Wiped out by an earthquake in 1746 and again in 1940, after independence it shrunk in importance, in 1880 it was under siege from the Chileans during the War of the Pacific while in the 1920s it had a sort of 'boulevard' revival inspired by Paris. Heavy migration in the 80s and 90s filled shanty towns and helped bring the population to 8.5 million (2007). 1992 saw deadly terrorist bombings by Sendero Luminoso but recently it has had large public works in transportation, parks, and culture that have led to a revival.
The central Plaza de Armas is ringed by the Palacio Arzobispal (1924), the cathedral (built and rebuilt in 1551, 1622, 1687, 1746, 1940) and the Palacio de Gobierno (1937), which hosts a daily changing of the guard ceremony behind severe bars and gates. This area was grid-planned by the Spanish and the square as the Plaza Mayor, was the heart of the settlement. Not one of the buildings is original, and one of the oldest items is the bronze fountain (1650). Pizarro's much mutilated remains are inside the cathedral.

Cathedral of Lima

The old Post Office

Barranco, originally a 'resort town' as such at the turn last century, is a bohemian area with great restaurants and bars inside the grand casonas of the past. Located just around the bay, it looks back as Miraflores hangs on the edge of the cliffs.

The Museo Larco and the Museo de la Nacion are impressive facilities with uncountable relics of bygone eras. Each has well-organized displays, but more impressive are the enormous store-rooms of items.
The sunset from LarcoMar shopping center

Couples dance in a Miraflores square
Source: Lonely Planet Peru 7th Edition, 2010

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