We had heard Lima was a city to miss. Many travellers make it only an overnight stopover on the way to Cusco. Undeterred, we planned four days here, though it was shorter than our usual city stays.
Our apartment was in Surquillo, a residential neighborhood next to the more fashionable Miraflores. Giving us a view of the mountains and the financial district, the spot was comfortable for relaxing, though a bit far out from the tourist stops. Taxis took us into the city for sightseeing, though the first thing we noticed was the traffic. We laughed when the GPS told us it would be 29 minutes to go 12 kilometers, but in fact the GPS estimate was low. It took longer. Multiple times we found intersections gridlocked as lights changed, but cars continued to push through, frustrated by the long wait and blocking cars coming from the other direction.
In the main square, the Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas, we watched the cavalry parade in front of the governors palace. The plaza is also home to the cathedral, built by the conquistador Francisco Pizzaro in 1535 when Lima was founded. The cathedral was closed while we were there, but is home to Pizzaro’s tomb. We strolled to the Monastery of St Francis a few blocks away where we saw a painting of the last supper depicting traditional Inca foods, such as guinea pig and chicha beer. The catacombs under the church are known for the skulls and leg bones arranged in geometric patterns.
The Lima Cathedral where Pizzaro is buried
Also located a few blocks from the plaza is the intriguingly named Casa De La Gastronomia Peruana. This is a food museum showing the foods produced in the different regions of Peru and how they have been used and cooked throughout history. The permanent collection includes cook wear and pottery, as well as full scale models of historical kitchens from Precolumbian times through the 20th century. Dad quite liked the temporary exhibit on the history of Pisco and the Pisco Sour.
The Casa De la Gastronomia Peruana
Not willing to miss an archeology museum, I dragged the crew to two while we were in Lima. The first was the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia, Antropologia e Historian del Peru. The building is in the Pueblo Libre neighborhood and was once home to San Martin and Bolivar, the leaders in the Revolution against Spain. The museum’s building looked a bit worn, but inside held an impressive, modern exhibit on the PreColumbian cultures of Peru, including an outstanding exhibition on the mummies of the desert. Boy was not fond of the mummies and preferred to leave that section as quickly as possible, though the museum had done a nice job developing some children’s hands on activities corresponding with the exhibit.
A “make your own tapestry” activity at the Museo Nacional De Arqueologia
Leaving the Museo Nacional Arqueologia we found the blue line painted on the sidewalk and followed it about 1.5 kilometers to the Museo Arqueologia Rafael Larco Herrera. This large, well funded museum housed in an 18th century mansion showcases a private collection of an artist and collector. The wide ranging collection covers 3000 years of Peruvian history, with well preserved examples of ceramics, metalwork, weavings, quipus, and gold.
Our final archeology stop was the pre-Incan ruins of Huaca Pucllana. Dating from about 500 AD, the pyramid is made of mud bricks and was a ceremonial center for hundreds of years. Now it is home to a restaurant that overlooks the ruins, where groups of tourists make offerings of flashes of light while they illuminate their selfies.
Our schoolwork this week has been themed around Pizarro, the conquistador and founder of the city of Lima. We also covered the pre-Incan cultures of Peru.