The department of Lima is located in the central occidental part of the country. It has an extension of 33,820 km² (13,058 sq ml) and a population of over 7’000,000 people. The capital is the city of Lima, one of the most important in South America, and declared Cultural Patrimony of the World. The weather is mild and fresh all year round, due to the its proximity to the seashore and the absence of rain.
Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or «The City of Kings.» It became the most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru and, after the Peruvian War of Independence, was made the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area.
Francisco Pizarro knew what he was doing when he founded the city of Lima on the banks of the Rimac River on January 6, 1535. This day is celebrated as the Epiphany, or day of the kings. Therefore, Lima is known as the city of kings. Located on the central coast, or costa, of Peru, the city is only about eight miles from the sea and serviced by the port of Callao, an important consideration then and now. See this interactive map from Expedia.
Lima now is a city populated with people of many nations and ethnic backgrounds. The population is swollen with people leaving the mountains, sierra, and the Amazon rain forest, selva, areas looking for a better life in the capital. This leads to ever growing shantytowns ringing the capital. These pueblos’ jóvenes or young towns, pollution, heavy traffic, poverty and other unsavory features are what a visitor often sees first on a visit to Lima.
Lima in colonial days was the center of a vast viceroyalty that extended from present day Ecuador to central Chile. It was the seat of power, government, politics, trade, commerce and culture. For two centuries, Lima was the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition and home of the first university established in South America. Lavish buildings, religious and secular, graced the streets. As the continent’s first university, founded in 1551. Behind baroque facades and elaborate gates, courtyards and palaces added grace to colonial life. Balconies and exterior decoration beautify the facades. Though much of Lima was destroyed by earthquakes over the years, many of the colonial buildings built around the original city center, now the center of Colonial Lima, survived. This area is now a UNESCO Mankind Heritage Site. Refer to this map of central Lima and the history of Peru.
TOURISTIC PLACES IN LIMA
Arqueological Complex of Pachacamac
Pachacamac is an archaeological zone located in the coastal district of Lurin, within the province, department and region of Lima. It is an architectural group in which the passage of different cultures is evidenced, from the Lima Culture in 200 A.D. to the Inca expansion in the years 1470, during the government of Inca Yupanqui, and later the Hispanic invasion.
Pachacamac is the name given to the coastal deity, its name comes from two voices: «Pacha» meaning «Earth» or «World» and «Camac» meaning «Maker», so its designation is translated as the Maker of the World and was the deity that animated things and living beings, is considered an agricultural and telluric idol in addition. According to the myth, it was said that Pachacamac was a deity that most of the time remained still, since if it moved it caused different seismic movements. This deity is associated to different myths, even to the creation of the first couple of men, among many others.
Regarding the archaeological zone known by this name. This one is called as such, since in it this god was adored, and in the interior of one of its palaces (the called Painted Temple) was found, in 1938, the idol of Pachacamac. This is a representation of the deity that is carved in lucumo wood, measures 2 meters 34 centimeters high and has a diameter of 12 cm. In the upper part of this can be seen the presence of a human head with two faces looking at totally opposite sites and underneath these different motifs that seem to be symbolizing the three worlds of the Andean worldview («Hanan Pacha», «Kay Pacha» and «Ukju pacha»).
At an architectural level, we can find within this Intangible Archaeological Zone, Temples such as the already mentioned Painted Temple, also called Temple of Pachacamac. This is of singular importance, not only because of the presence of the deity, but also because of its location and design. The Painted Temple is built inside a sacred sector and has a pyramidal structure. It is a stepped pyramid, in whose terraces the pink and yellow pigmentation was present, together with the presence of different friezes in which marine motifs were recognized along with corn plants that seemed to sprout from the heads of the fish. This pyramid had a rectangular base whose measures were 100 m. by 50 m. and whose top was accessed by a zigzagging path and ascending through the ramps.
Barranco and Chorrillos
Barranco is one of 43 districts in Lima, Peru. It is considered to be the city’s most important romantic and bohemian district. It used to be a fashionable beach resort for the old Lima aristocracy. Many people used to spend the summer here and in neighboring Chorrillos. The current mayor is Felipe Antonio Mezarina Tong and the district’s postal code is 04
The name Barranco (Spanish for ravine) is descriptive of its topography, featuring homes and restaurants in and around a ravine near a cliff overlooking a small sand strip (now flanked by a highway, Costa Verde Ave.) which runs from Miraflores District to Chorrillos.
There is a beautiful walkway to the sea that runs through Barranco, (called the Bajada de los Baños) Crossing over this walkway is the (Puente de los Suspiros) or Bridge of Sighs. The walkway is bordered on both sides by grand houses, and the legend goes that a daughter of one of these grand houses fell in love with a lowly street sweeper. Her father forbid the union, and she lived out her days as a spinster, waiting at her window for glimpse of her beloved. Those who walked across the bridge could hear her plaintive sighs. On the far side of the bridge is a park with a statue of Barranco’s famous singer and composer, Chabuca Granda.
Barranco has houses in the style of the Republican era, flower-filled parks and streets, and appealing beachfront areas. This district includes numerous restaurants. Many nightclubs are also located in Barranco, including discos, bars and peñas, where one can appreciate Peruvian music shows. On Pedro de Osma Ave., some tracks from the former streetcar (originally a railroad between Chorrillos/La Herradura and Downtown Lima) can be seen.
One of the most traditional areas of Lima of yesteryear, which was given the name ‘Barrio Alto’ due to the slight slope it is on. Up until the 1960s, composers, intellectuals and bohemians took the notion of the Creole way of life to its limits and their favourite hangout was this area of Lima with its colonial origin. The most attractive monuments are: ‘La Quinta Heeren’, ‘la Casa de las Trece Monedas’, ‘La Iglesia de las Trinitarias’ and ‘el Molino de Santa Clara’. There are special tours around this part of town which has an enchantment all of its own.
Southeast of the Plaza de Armas, near the Central Market, is the start of China Town or Barrio Chino as it is called. It is easily recognizable by the Chinese Arch over the entrance. Lima’s China Town is primarily known for its Chinese-Peruvian cuisine, which is famed for being the best in Lima. The area also has a few temples and interesting stores if you have some extra time. For visitors spending the day sightseeing in central Lima, this is a great area to stop for lunch, but probably doesn’t warrant a great deal of time for touring around. The main street in China Town is Capón.
Parque de las Leyendas
Lima’s Zoologico (zoo) and Parque de las Leyendas (Legends Park), are worth a visit if you’re traveling with kids. The park, is in the San Miguel district; tries its best to represent Peru’s three crucial geographical regions: selva (rainforest), sierra (highlands) and costa (coast). There are some good exotic Peruvian and South American fauna, such as condors, macaws, jaguars, llamas, and alpacas. The park has a playground with go-karts and some amusement park rides, and it’s a good place for a picnic lunch. The zoo and park are open daily from 9am to 5pm.
It is located 223 feet (67 metres) above sea level and 148 km north of the city of Lima. The city is located on the Pan-American Highway, and close to the Lomas de Lachay National Park so it has extensive vegetation and wildlife.
Settled on the bottom of a wide bay, its climate is wet and appealing. In the surrounding areas there are rice, cotton, sugarcane and different grain fields. This fact has allowed the rise of a rather important cotton industry, as well as cotton and oil factories. Within its natural landscape, its lt mines and its beaches (such as El Paraíso ) are of great interest. Huacho was one of the main trade center north to Lima.
The Cathedral Basilica of Lima
The Cathedral Basilica of Lima is, within the city, one of the oldest as well as important religious buildings of Peru that stands since the founding of Lima by order of Francisco Pizarro in 1535.
This church is located in the historic center of Lima and its construction demanded many efforts taking into account the occasional earthquakes that involved a remodeling for this building, at a certain point was requested to remodel it like the Cathedral of Seville but that change did not materialize.
The Cathedral of Lima, which is under the invocation of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist is characterized by having several architectural styles within which include its Renaissance façade, Gothic vaults and altars that were previously baroque and were remodeled to neoclassicism showing the importance and significance of this building as well as the changes that came suffering the city of Lima.
The Cathedral is conformed by 3 ships and counts on other 2 from where the lateral chapels are derived. It has three covers, being the central one the so-called Door of Forgiveness; in its facade statues of the apostles can be identified having as principal in the superior part the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Constitutional Province of Callao
El Callao district is located only 30 minutes away from Lima, on Pacific Ocean coast; the population is more than 400.000 inhabitants who live on 45.65 square meters.
The Port of Callao (first port of Peru) and Jorge Cháves International Airport (first air terminal) are located in the district. That’s why it is the main entrance to Perú.
Callao was founded in 1537, at the same time that Francisco founded Lima. As the gateway to Lima it was frequently attacked. The English navigator Sir Francis Drake sacked the city in 1578. It was held by Spanish loyalists until 1826, even though Peru achieved independence in 1821. During the War of the Pacific, Callao was occupied (1881–83) by Chile. Subjected to earthquakes and tsunamis, the city was completely destroyed in 1746 and was severely damaged in 1940. Several landmarks from the colonial period survive. An airport, a university, and Peru’s military and naval schools are in Callao
Capital: Callao (7 masl / 23 fasl)
Lowest point: 0 masl / 0 fasl
Highest point: 534 masl / 1752 fasl
Its climate is humid and foggy most of the year, and warm and sunny during summer time (January, February, and March). It has an average annual temperature of 19ºC (66ºF). In summer, it reaches an average temperature of 30ºC (86ºF), and during winter, it drops to 14ºC (57ºF).
By land: There is public transportation from several points of the city of Lima to the different districts of Callao and viceversa.
Air: The Jorge Chavez International Airport is located in the Callao department.
By see: The port of Callao is the main harbor of the country.
Palomino islands(four islands) are located close to Callao port, hided in the back of el Frontón and San Lorenzo Island, are four and the biggest one is located behind San Lorenzo Island.
It is habitat of thousand sea lions that makes an important tourist attraction.
In Palomino islands, we will find group of thousand sea lions that swim surrounding of impressive rocky formations and caverns. You will also find a variety of guano producing birds as: the guanay, the zarcillos, and the piquero and the monkeys. It is an ecological paradise worthy of visit it.
San Lorenzo Island
It is the major island of Peruvian coast, is eight kilometers long and 2.2 kilometer wide. The island was used as religious place by natives in pre-Hispanic epoch. Human remains, ceramic, pieces of reed fabrics, heads of cotton thread and others were found. The native people also get guano for using as fertilizer in cultivations.
The Frontón Island
7 Kilometers from Callao, Lima. It is an immense rocky formation, old prison island; also known as Isla del Muerto (Dead Island).
Nowadays, it is deserted, even thought some tourists visit the Peruvian coastal islands. It has sea lions colonies which make a beautiful view. It has marine salt and clay fields
Real Felipe Fortress
It was built in XVIII century, is known as Castillo Del Callao (Callao Castles). It’s a military architecture, built by Spaniards. It was originally built for Callao defense against pirates and corsairs; years after, it was the last bastion of Spanish resistance in Peru independence. Nowadays, it is a museum where people can have guided visits.
Cañete and LunaHuana
It is a district of the province of Cañete, It’s located 50 miles from the city of San Vicente de Cañete. Lunahuana has a dry climate and the sun shines during the most part of the year. Lately, Lunahuana has changed into a paradise of adventure sports such as rafting, paragliding, hiking, mountain bicycle and hang-glider.
It is located 184 km. from Lima, by an asphalted road that runs along the Cañete River, appear a beautiful piece of sky called Lunahuana.
It is the favorite district of Limenians on weekends. Its altitude of 1,572 feet above sea level and it has 193 Sq miles. It has a wonderful climate. Its average temperature in summer is 89.6 ºF and in winter is 78.8 ºF. Hotels, Cuisine, Sports and the landscape are very good.
To get Cañete from Lima, you can take cars that go to Chincha or Ica, the majority of these buses leave from Jr. Montevideo in El Cercado de Lima (is half block from Av. Abancay).
After having traveled by the Panamericana sur Road for two hours, we will arrive to Cañete. Once being in Cañete, we will travel by Imperial for 15 minutes, where public transportation leaves to Cañete.
If the tourist want a place near to Lima where one can get some rest and get fun, that place is Lunahuana Valley.
Caral Cradle of Civilization
It is very difficult for a contemporary human to believe that the history of humanity still has got a place for unexpected discoveries. Of course, the «golden age» of archeology seemed to have passed in the Old World, but the New World still keeps «blank spots» for future historians and archaeologists. One of the most important recent discoveries is the most ancient civilization of America – Caral that got its name after a little village in 158 kilometers to the North of Lima.
In the Valley of Supe River, on the territory of which archaeologists counted the ruins of 18 settlements, investigations started even at the dawn of XX century. But the discoveries did not please by their significance. The situation was complicated by absolute absence of ceramics, the analysis of which has always helped the archaeologists to determine the age and level of civilization development. At that time it didn’t even occur to anyone that the discovered ruins belong to a pre-ceramic period (ceramics appeared in the South America around 1800 B.C.).
Paul Kosok discovered Caral (Chupacigarro Grande) in 1948, but it received little attention until recently because it appeared to lack many typical artifacts that were sought at archeological sites throughout the Andes at the time. Archaeologist Ruth Shady further explored the 5,000 year-old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, with its elaborate complex of temples, an amphitheater and ordinary houses. The urban complex is spread out over 150 acres (607,000 m²) and contains plazas and residential buildings. Caral was a thriving metropolis at roughly the same time that Egypt’s great pyramids were being built.
The main pyramid (Pirámide Mayor) covers an area nearly the size of four football fields and is 60 feet (18 m) tall. Caral is the largest recorded site in the Andean region with dates older than 2000 BCE and appears to be the model for the urban design adopted by Andean civilizations that rose and fell over the span of four millennia. It is believed that Caral may answer questions about the origins of Andean civilizations and the development of the first cities.
Chancay, archaeological site in central Peru, center of the ancient Cuismancu empire. Culturally influenced by the Chimu, the Cuismancu dominated less territory and were not as powerful. Nonetheless they built sizable cities and were somewhat more materially advanced than their southern neighbors, the Chincha (see Ica). The Cuismancu were conquered by the Inca in the 15th cent.