Saturday 12 August 2017

An Excursion To South America: 11.Getting To Know Lima, Peru Part I

We left Foz do Iguazu, Brazil for Peru on LATAM Airlines, a flight that took 4½ hours. Excitement filled the air when our plane landed in the Peruvian capital as Peru is a country I've long desired to see. My interest in Peru dated back to my school days when I saw pictures of llamas on the Andes Mountains and Peruvians clad in traditional attires in my geography book. There is much about Peru that intrigued me so how glad I was to be there finally. 

We had plans to visit Machu Picchu in the Andes where we were required to take another domestic flight out of Lima but thankfully we did not bypass this city. I spent just a short stint in Lima but it has earned a spot in the list of "Cities I Like". 
I really like Lima. It is full of character, rich in history and steeped in culture. Lima is a captivating juxtaposition of the old and the modern but my main reason for liking it is because it is inhabited by people who are very warm and friendly.

Some Facts About Lima
Lima which is the capital city of the Republic of Peru is also its largest city. It is densely populated with an estimated metropolitan area population of 9 million.

Lima was founded by a Spanish conqueror called Francisco Pizarro in 1535. This early conquest and European migration contributed to shaping the many facades of Lima. Spanish is Peru's official language today.

Lima lies in a desert strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and it never really rains in Lima. It just drizzles. Lima receives only 0.5 cm of rain averagely each year but the weather in Lima is ideally cool, a weather tourists like me would really delight in. It is 5090 feet asl and I suppose that contributes to the coolness.

The Historic Centre of Lima
The Historic Centre which is also known as The City Of Kings was the birth place of Lima. This is the old part of the city and the part that I love the most. The streets are narrow and colourful and the architecture is exquisite.The historic buildings and monuments most of which were constructed during the Spanish colonization exude a classic charm. The public squares are simply marvelous and are places that you'll surely like to hang out.

The Historic Centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 because of its high concentration of historic buildings and monuments whose authenticity has been sustained over the years.

The balconies are a frequent feature seen among the buildings here.

1) Plaza San Martin @ Historic Centre
Plaza San Martin is a beautiful public square in the hub of Lima. It is surrounded by many heritage buildings that dated a few centuries and it is part of the Historic Centre. 
We didn't stop at the square but I caught glimpses of it as our bus cruised through. It is an enchanting square with a manicured flower garden, a paved walking path and a splendid looking pond.

A monument with a statue of General Jose de San Martin, a key leader for the struggle of independence in Southern America is erected at the centre of the square. 
The square is surrounded by many beautiful colonial buildings which are painted white.

2.Plaza Mayor aka Plaza de Armas @ Historic Centre
Plaza Mayor aka Plaza de Armas is Lima's oldest square and the most spectacular spot in the Historic Centre. This square dated back to the 16th century when Lima was colonised by the early Spanish. The square is surrounded by gorgeous buildings all built with exquisite architecture and many with intricate details.
This public square is totally pedestrianized. Embellished with palm trees, flower beds, lamp posts, a fountain and equipped with benches, this makes a great place to relax and watch the world go by. 
Standing majestically on the eastern side is the Cathedral of Lima, a Roman Catholic cathedral which was constructed in 1535.
Just beside the cathedral is the Archbishop's palace with a very ornate facade.
Another stunning building in the vicinity is The Municipal Palace. The original building built during the 17th century was destroyed by earthquake and fire and standing on its site is a reconstructed one. 

Another elegant building in the midst of Plaza Mayor is The Government Palace which serves as the official residence of the president of Peru. This building is surrounded by a high metal gate.
More Photos Of Plaza Mayor

3. Monastery Of San Francisco @ Historic Centre
A short distance from Plaza Mayor stands another grand and imposing complex. The Monastery Of San Francisco comprises two churches, a convent, a library and an underground cemetery. It is one of the highlights of our tour around the Historic Centre of Lima. 
The church is still a functional place of worship and a service was in progress when we visited the place.
The entire complex looks awesome with intricate details on walls and ceilings and an impressive display of paintings and other icons.

There is a very old library within the complex with about 25,000 books in different languages and different disciplines collected from the 16th to the 20th centuries. 
This monastery is most famous for its catacomb, a dark and narrow chamber under the church which served as a burial ground till 1808. An estimated 25,000 people were buried here. This place was lost and forgotten until it was discovered and reopened in 1947. 
The monastery ground was thronged with visitors and there were a number of vendors selling their wares.

Huaca Pucllana (Pucllana Temple)
Huaca Pucllana is an adobe and clay pyramid built on a series of seven platforms. This archaeological site is located in the upscale Miraflores District in Central Lima. 
Our visit was just a fleeting one but it is amazing to see a site dating back to year 200AD -700AD.  The archaeological project to uncover ancient artifacts on this site is still ongoing. 
The site was an important ceremonial and administrative center during the ancient civilization of Peru.

The Peruvians I encountered are simple, friendly and warm people. They are happy to be photographed and are accommodating in many ways. Children would approach you asking for autographs making you feel like a celebrity. Unfortunately more than 50 percent of Peruvians live in poverty with about 60 percent of Peruvians earning less than USD$190 a month.

Here are some random photographs of these beautiful people and their lifestyle.

18. The Journey To Machu Picchu
19. Machu Picchu, Peru
20. Staying In Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness
21. Adios Peru, Hola Buenos Aires
22. That Colourful Walk At Caminito, La Boca
23. Buenos Aires Attractions
24. A Boat Tour Of Parana Delta, Tigre
25. El Calafate, Argentina
26.The Scenic Drive From El Calafate To Los Glaciares National Park

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