Guest blogger Paul Jones lives in Peru and writes for Totally Latin America S.A, a specialized travel company that plans and operates specialized Peru Vacation Packages.
During the occupation of the Spanish in Peru, Lima was considered to be the most powerful city in the continent. Towards the end of the 18th century when the Spanish created several competing vice-royalties the city fell into decline. But nowadays, with the assistance of Peru's booming economy the city is returning to its former glory. If you are planning on travelling to Peru in the near future, then here are five reasons why you should include a couple of days to visit one of South America's most dynamic and interesting cities.
Lima is the Gastronomic Heart of South America.
I know that this is quite a statement to make considering that there are quite a few other countries in the continent, but Peru really is the gastronomic heart of South America. In a recent article by Conde Nast Traveler, the magazine dedicated to luxury travel, Peru was described as a 'benchmark for foodies and gourmets around the world.' This was further supported when Peru won the prize of 'World's Leading Culinary Destination 2012' at the recent World Travel awards. Don't take my word for it; head to Lima in September during Lima's Mistura Festival and see for yourself what incredible variety of tasty and mouth-watering cuisine that originates from Peru.
Well-developed for Tourism
Dotted around the high-class districts of Miraflores and San Isidro are a vast selection of tourist hotels that cater to just about anyone's taste. I would even go as far as saying that some of Lima's very best luxury hotels like the Orient Express owned Miraflores Park and the brand-new Westin Hotel can rival any western hotel for quality and sheer class. Furthermore, if you planning on taking some time to explore Lima with a guided excursion, you will be pleased to know that fully air-conditioned, new and comfortable vehicles are normal practice. With Lima's Jorge Chavez Airport receiving direct daily international flights from Miami, New York, San Francisco, Madrid and Amsterdam getting to Peru couldn't be any easier.
Pre-Columbian History in Abundance
Lima has an incredible 300 archaeological sites dating back to pre-Columbian times. Although not all of them are spectacular, there are a few which are really worth visiting. One such site is located in the business district of San Isidro. Rising high above many of the surrounding residential and commercial buildings is the impressive pyramid structure of the Temple of Huallamarca. Standing at 21 meters (69 feet) tall the Temple of Huallamarca dates back to the period of the Lima Culture (150– 600 A.D.). The fascinating onsite museum displays many of the artefacts that have been recovered from the temple, including a well-preserved mummy thought to date back to more than 800 years. In total, more than 150 mummies have been recovered from the site, including 4 last year.
Beauty that Rivals any European City
Plaza de Armas is Lima's main square and located in the heart of the historic city. It is here where Francisco Pizarro founded the city on January 18, 1535. The plaza is where you will find the grand Government Palace (home to the president of Peru), Lima's Cathedral, City Hall and other government buildings. The well-kept gardens of the plaza along with the many large and highly decorative wooden balconies make for many great photographic opportunities. With many of the other buildings around the historic centre influenced by the neo-classic and French art-nouveau periods, a walk to the nearby Plazas of San Martin and Miguel Grau is a great way to see some of the cities many beautiful and hidden nuances.
High Quality Museums
As with most large cities, Lima has an abundance of great museums to visit. One of the very best has to be the Larco Museum located in the Pueblo Libre district of the city. Set in an 18th century vice-royal mansion, the Larco Museum offers one of the most comprehensive overviews of the entire known history of Peru, covering some 3,000 years. The museum offers 8 permanent exhibitions: lithic, the vault, gold and jewellery, metals, cultures, ceramics and textiles, plus a rather unusual but interesting erotic art exhibition. Visitors are also permitted to enter the museums unique storage area, where literally hundreds of thousands of artefacts are catalogued and stored.
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