More Information About Lima
The Peruvian capital of Lima is the country’s largest city, with a population of nearly 9 million one third of the population of Peru. Its history spans millennia, with its pre-Columbian pyramids, Spanish colonial churches and palaces, and the rising skyscrapers of the financial district. Lima’s beaches are popular during the summer, and resort towns consisting of clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels have sprung up to serve beachgoers. Museums like the Larco Museum, with its famous Gallery of Erotic Pottery, and Gold Museum, with its vast collection of pre-Columbian gold and precious stone masterpieces, are also must-see stops for with tourists and nationals alike. Popular neighborhoods include the ocean-side districts of ritzy and relaxed Miraflores and bohemian Barranco, with its seaside cliffs and Bridge of Sighs, have some of the liveliest nightlife and best restaurants in Lima.
In the historical center of Lima, the Plaza de Armas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find the baroque 16th century Cathedral, where city founder Francisco Pizarro laid the first stone and carried the first log. The French-style Government Palace, built upon the site of the house of Taulichusco, Chief of the Rímac Valley, is also found here. Once a viceroyal palace, San Martín declared Peru’s independence here and it is now the president’s residence. One unmissable stop is the monumental 16th-18th century baroque San Francisco Monastery, the largest of its type in the New World, with its thousands of rare volumes and scrolls and subterranean crypt with artfully arranged skulls and bones from 25,000-75,000 bodies.
Throughout its history Lima has seen various influential immigration waves: African influence has given the city its lively peñas and one of its most important religious festivals, the Lord of Miracles, whose miraculous image painted by a freed slave is venerated in the Sanctuary of Las Nazarenas. The Chinese left their mark with thousands of chifas, Peruvian-Chinese restaurants, the best of which are in Lima’s Chinatown, Calle Capón. The Japanese left their sophisticated techniques on various dishes, most notably the sashimi-ceviche fusion known as tiradito. With the influence of its indigenous, Spanish, African, Chinese, and Japanese populations, Lima has earned a reputation as the “Gastronomical Capital of the Americas”.
Geography of Lima
Urban Lima covers about 310mi2 of desert coastal plain, between the Pacific Ocean to the beginning of the Andean hillsides and mountain slopes as high as 1,600ft. It’s the second-largest desert city in the world, after Egypt’s Cairo. The territory of Lima includes the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín Rivers; the vital Rímac provides drinking water and electricity (through hydroelectric dams) to the city.
A popular excursion is a boat trip from the Port of Callao, from where one can visit the Palomino Islands, home to more than 60,000 sea lions and hundreds of Humboldt Penguins. Marcahuasi Plateau (House of the Mountain), about 48 miles inland, is a popular camping and hiking site due to the natural beauty of its huge rock formations.
Despite being a subtropical desert, Lima has a mild and comfortable climate thanks to the cooling effects such as the Pacific Ocean and Humboldt Current. Temperatures rarely exceed 84°F or dip below 54°F. Summers (December through April) are sunny, warm, and humid with persistent morning fogs. Winters (June through September) are gray, cool, and breezy with morning with frequent morning drizzle. Rainfall is mainly limited to the winter months and is severely low despite the high humidity, with 2.4in per year in inland districts and 1.2in in coastal districts.
History of Lima
The first major empire along the coast was that of the Huari. During their rein they constructed many important sites such as the Cajarmarquilla ceremonial center. After their decline, other cultures arose, such as the Chancay and Chimú. The area now known as Lima became the state of Itchyma, named after the area inhabitants after the fall of the Huari Empire, but the name was replaced by Limaq after a famous oracle that rose to prominence some time before the Inca conquered this area in the 15th century and integrated it into their empire. During this time a great variety of huacas, pre-Columbian religious shrines which in this region were mainly pyramids, popped up throughout the territory of Lima and served multiple civilizations. These include the pyramids and cemetery of Pachacámac (200AD), once home to the coast’s preeminent oracle, and Pucllana Temple (500AD), a striking sight in Miraflores thanks to the creative night lighting of one of the only pre-Columbian temples in Lima that is not fenced-off.
The Spanish Conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizzaro and allied with indigenous groups subjugated by the Inca, effectively defeated the Inca Empire in 1532 when Inca leader Atahualpa, who had just defeated his brother in an Inca civil war, was murdered in captivity. Pizarro founded the Lima as the new capital of Peru three years later, as The City of Kings, although this name fell into disuse. It was located on fertile ground with a fresh climate, strategically close enough to a coast favorable for the construction of a port, but distant enough to provide the city with some protection from maritime threats.
In the early years of the Viceroyalty, there were various frustrated indigenous uprisings, the most serious being the 1536 rebellion led by Manco Inca, which besieged Lima but was ultimately repelled by the Spaniards and their native allies.
Lima quickly gained prestige upon being designated capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1543, becoming the most important Spanish colonial city in South America. Throughout the following century, it prospered as the center of the extensive commercial network between South America and Europe. However, the city was not free from dangers; pirates and privateers necessitated the building of the Lima city walls between 1684 and 1687. A violent earthquake in 1687 destroyed most of the city buildings and marked a turning point in the history of Lima as it coincided with a recession in trade and growing economic competition with other cities such as Buenos Aires.
During the 18th century the Fortress of Royal Felipe was constructed on the Port of Callao to deal with the pirate issue. It would later play an important role in the Wars of Independence and provide refuge for the fledging republican government during the first years of Independence.
A combined expedition of Argentine and Chilean under General José de San Martín landing south of Lima in 1820, through a naval blockade and inland guerilla fighting, forced the Viceroy to evacutate Lima on July 1821 to save the Royalist army. Amid fears of a popular uprising and the lack of any means to impose order, San Martín was allowed to enter Lima and declared the Independence of Peru, although fighting between royalists and Peruvian and other South American freedom fighters would continue throughout the country until the decisive battle of Ayacucho in 1824.
Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru and passed through periods of economic stagnation and booms, such as that based on guano exportation, through periods of peace and the uprisings of regions such as Arequipa determined to become the seat of government. The city walls were demolished in 1868 and, during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), the Chileans managed to occupy Lima, forcing major reconstruction after their retreat.