The capital of Peru is a complete city, full of untold historic points of interest and home to a metropolitan area that encompasses one-third of the national populace. While hotels in Lima are often little more than platforms to other destinations within Peru, from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Arequipa to Lake Titicaca, without question, the fifth most populous city in Latin America is worth some of your travel time. These ten must-see attractions, in particular, deserve a gander.
10. Museo de la Nación
True, the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú is more indelible in the hearts and minds of locals and visitors alike but Lima’s other national museum, the Museo de la Nación, is a triumph of pre-colonial Andean objects.
9. Convento de San Francisco
The Convento de San Francisco, or Saint Francis Monastery, is a venerable part of Lima’s UNESCO World Heritage Historic Centre. While the late 18th century architecture is significant, the real treasure is the incomparable convent library. A labyrinthine catacomb network links San Francisco with other landmarks in the old colonial quarter of the city.
8. Casa Pilatos
Lima unfurls a multitude of historic estates but few stack up to Casa Pilatos. The oldest house in the city was built in 1590 and is available for tours.
7. Museo de la Inquisición
The Peruvian Inquisition was a brutal period of oppression for thousands of marginalized people, from slaves of African descent to women, Jews to mestizos. From 1570 to 1820, the Church was judge, jury and executioner in Peru and, at the behest of the Spanish Crown, effectively ran the country. The Museo de la Inquisición was the headquarters of the Inquisition and commemorates the era in vivid fashion.
6. Iglesia de las Nazarenas
With innumerable beautiful churches to choose from in Lima, one can be forgiven for suffering from a bout of ecclesiastical overload. Do make time, however, for the Iglesia de las Nazarenas, the site of one of the country’s most zealous religious processions every October 18.
5. Fundacion Museo Amano
The national museums get a lot of play in Lima, deservedly so, but the private Fundacion Museo Amano‘s collection of pre-Columbian and, specifically, rare Chancay cultural objects is a standout. Make an appointment in advance for a one-hour private tour.
Plaza Mayor, Lima – Photo credit
4. Cerro San Cristóbal
The dominant natural landmark to hover over the Historic Centre of Lima provides a remarkable view of the old city and the Acho bullring.
3. Convento de los Descalzos
The 18th century Convento de los Descalzos is one of the most indelible features of the Rímac district of Lima, which is otherwise overrun by pueblos jóvenes, or new shanty towns.
2. Basílica Catedral Metropolitana de Lima
Lima’s primary cathedral dates back to the early 16th century and, despite subsequent facelifts since, still evokes the embryonic colonial era. Home to many fine features of note, the tomb of Francisco Pizarro is perhaps the most auspicious.
1. Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú
If you can only make time for one museum while in Lima, the excellent National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History is the one. This is, after all, the museum of Peru and the Peruvian people and, as a result, tells the country’s extraordinary story with nonpareil dramatic flair.
Indigenous artefact at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú – Photo credit