Sunday, November 18, 2012 Home

Worth a Return Trip: Lima, Peru

Lima is one of those cities that tourists are often advised to spend as little time in as possible. If you are given that advice, ignore it. I’ve been to Lima briefly on two occasions and absolutely loved it. Those were brief visits, not nearly enough time to get to know this complex, fragile, cultured, and beautiful city. I think a month would be better.

So, what would I do if I had a month in Lima?

I’d spend a lot of time exploring the historic heart of the city that crawls out from the Plaza Mayor, including meeting some of the people working to save this stunning, fragile area.
 While an architectural treasure, much of the historic core has been abandoned and is at risk of collapse during the next major earthquake, if not before. Despite many efforts to halt disinvestment here, there is still much to be done. For example, although some structures have been stabilized, the upper floors of most are off-limits. All of this presents a Catch-22 for the city – it’s too expensive to stabilize so many underutilized buildings, but the lack of stabilization limits the economic vitality that would support that investment. I want to enter these buildings to explore and document them – the famous (Government House and Aliaga House, as well as the unknown – in part to preserve a memory should disaster strike, but also to understand the needs and find ways to help address them, to do my small part to ensure the city’s historic buildings remain for future generations.

Of course, the problems associated with preserving thousands of historic buildings isn’t limited to the historic core.   
Church in the Barranco

I want to visit churches, monasteries, and convents to record both the history and the current life of these structures. Not just the famous ones like San Francisco Church and Monastery or the cloister at the church of Santo Domingo, but also those less well-known like the Convento de los Descalzos.        
San Francisco Church

I’d visit museums – repeatedly and at my leisure. This is a country with ancient textile and pottery traditions that are among the finest anywhere in the world, a legacy well worth exploring further.

In addition, I’d like time to uncover as much as I can of the lost world of the Inca. The few traces that still exist hint at a beautiful artistic legacy as well as amazing political organization.

I’d eat and eat and then eat some more. Not just the country’s signature ceviche (washed down with a pisco sour), but a wide variety of foods from throughout the country.     
The Incas developed hundreds of varieties of corn and potatoes, making this a place with a long history of eating well.

I’d wander the streets of Barranco, absorbing the complex culture of this re-emerging area of the city. (A few hours was not enough.) 
I’d try to get to know some of the city’s hidden courtyards, like the lovely private courtyard at Casa Garcia Alvarado that we visited as part of our cruise.  
I’d relax and enjoy the greenery and the view of the ocean from the Malecón in lovely Miraflores. Our brief stops on previous trips left me wanting a lot more time for wandering here where this desert city meets the sea in a swath of greenery.   


A Few Planning Resources:

More posts on Lima 

More places worth a return trip

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