|This article originally appeared in
|Between the azure Pacific Ocean and Rio Rimac, at the foot of the rugged Cerro San Cristobel, lies the City
of Kings. Lima local Eric J. Lyman introduces us to a metropolis blessed with a compelling combination:
the mystery and adventure of a lost civilization and the energy and vitality of a nation building anew.
perfect climate to unmask archaeological wonders and enjoy the golden opportunities of this capital
rebirth. But now, 460 years after conquistador Francisco Pizarro chose the city's location because of
a plentiful fresh water supply and easy access to the sea, Lima is being reborn.
of all of Spain's possessions on the continent. The original city was laid out on the banks of the
Rimac river like a chessboard surrounding the still-stunning Plaza de Armas. And scores of colonial-
era homes and cathedrals still like narrow avenues designed not for the cars of today but for the
horse-dram carriages of another era.
problems like poverty, overcrowding, and crime. Lima's image, once gilded with the gold of the felled
Inca empire, slowly became tarnished.
epidemic, and money to maintain the centuries-old city was hard to come by. Terrorism and runaway
inflation took a heavy toll.
Spanish of the conquistadors' descendants can be heard along with other languages from around
the world in the fashionable sidewalk cafes of Miraflores and San Isidro, now the cultural and
commercial centers of the new Lima.
The rebirth is reaching the old city as well. Though the centuries of neglect are slower to give way to the broom and paintbrush, the stately
monuments and unique architecture have never stopped calling to visitors.
But the biggest change is in the attitude of the limenos (Lima natives), who are today prouder than ever of their city. Most Peruvians you
meet will ask immediately if you are enjoying your stay. After these three days in the reborn City of Kings, your answer will likely be easy:
The best place to stay in Lima is the five-star Hotel El Olivar, located
on a peaceful side street across from a century-old olive grove
(ideal for an evening stroll) in San Isidro, perhaps the city's most
elegant district. One of the attractive features about El Olivar, known
for its posh rooms and outstanding service, is its location: close to
shopping malls, the business district, and some of the finest
restaurants in Lima.
Breakfast will start at one of them, the fashionable Café Ole, a staple
of many elite limenos and just a minute's walk from El Olivar.
With a busy day ahead, opt for a light breakfast – the restaurant's
Spanish-style tortilla de patatas is a good choice – with fresh juice.
After breakfast, head back to the hotel and have a taxi called for the
next five hours (until lunch). Be sure to dress lightly and comfortably.
First stop is the ruins of Pachacamac, one of the most important
archaeological sites within easy access of Lima – just a 45-minute
drive south of the city. Dating back to around A.D. 500, the area was
taken over by the Incas in the mid-15th century and was the biggest
city on Peru's coast when the Spanish arrived. Take at least two
hours to explore the ruins, with information available at the visitors'
After the ruins, return to the hotel to freshen up before a late lunch
at Costa Verde (bring along a light coat or sweater for the cool,
early evening air). Known for great views of the ocean and the cliffs
along the Barranco and Miraflores districts, Costa Verde is the place
for tasty seafood. For lunch, sample the buffet and try cebiche,
a traditional dish of fish marinated in lemon.
With a full stomach, head up the cliffs in one of the cabs waiting at the restaurant to Barranco, Lima's bohemian district, and the private
Pedro de Osma Museum, a visit the hotel arranged for you. The museum, open only by appointment, has one of the best collections of
postconquest art and artifacts from all over Peru. Tours are in English or Spanish.
The Barranco area is the former home of world-renowned personalities, such as novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. Stroll from the museum
through Barranco along the old trolley tracks of the Av. Pedro de Osma to a small museum and antiques shop in the beautiful colonial
home of Vivian and Jaime Liebana. The Liebanas offer a tour (by appointment only—again, have the hotel arrange it) of the well-
appointed museum. The quality of merchandise available for sale in the shop, some dating back to the conquest, is without parallel in
Less than a 100-meter walk from the Liebana's home is the restaurant La Ermita (the Spanish word for a wall portal that holds a
sculpture of religious significance), where the bustle of Barranco will be temporarily lost in a peaceful island of flowers, trees, and
classical jazz. The restaurant is located beneath Barranco's famous Bridge of Sighs. The view from the bridge is what induces the
sighs—but so might La Ermita's light versions of native cuisine and dishes made of exotic fruits from the Amazon jungle.
After dinner, enjoy a short walk around Barranco. On the north side of the Bridge of Sighs is a sliver of land called El Punto, with
spectacular views of Lima's u-shaped coastline. On the other side of the bridge is the colonial-era Plaza de Armas de Barranco, with its
old library and numerous quaint bars on the far side.
Walk back toward Pedro de Osma to Manos Morenas, a restaurant and bar known for its outstanding show of native dances and music
that starts each night after 10:30 p.m. The bar serves what some consider to be Lima's best pisco sour—Peru's most famous drink.
(caption: after shopping for colorful
handicrafts, stroll through the Plaza de
Armas, where echoes of colonialism
still reverberate from the cathedral's
the fresh-squeezed juices.
preserved of the eight, millennia-old, adobe, flat-topped pyramids within the
city limits. Get information at the main entrance and spend 45 minutes
exploring the site. A small museum of artifacts includes a mummy that was
unearthed in ongoing excavations.
finestpre-colonial Peruvian ceramics collection anywhere. The best pieces are
laid out in chronological order. Tours are given in English, Spanish, or French.
The museum also has small but striking collections of mummies, gold, and
textiles. Downstairs is the museum's unique erotic art collection of explicit pre-
kept secret. The name is simply the address of the restaurant, and the
building is a reconstructed parking garage tucked away in an unfashionable
part of town. But once you're in the door, the change is monumental, especially
when the food arrives. The unique blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine
creates a taste available nowhere else. The chita al sal—tender rockfish
baked in a shell of salt—is the restaurant's signature dish. For an appetizer, try
the fresh mussels or Peru-styled sushi, made to include uniquely Peruvian
vegetables. The best bet may be to ask owner Humberto Sato—a second-
generation Japanese immigrant who went to school with President Alberto
Fujimori, also of Japanese descent—to create a special dish for your tastes.
From there, head back to Miraflores and Parque Kennedy, where the flowers are always in bloom. A short walk to the south, along
avenues La Paz and Alcanflores, are shops that sell the finest Peruvian artwork. The best may be Agua y Tierra on cross street Diez
Two blocks closer to the ocean is the pedestrian walkway Taratas, closed in 1991 to become Parque de la Paz (Park of the Peace), now
a popular meeting place for young people.
Nearby, El Senorio de Sulco (the pre-Spanish name for Lima) is the choice for la ultima cena (your last dinner) in Lima. The restaurant
goes to great lengths to accurately produce scores of native dishes—some of which had been forgotten for generations. The best
appetizers are the rocotto rellena (a pepper stuffed with steak and vegetables) or the papas huancaina (potatoes and a mildly spicy
cheese sauce). The signature dish is huatia sukcana, a Lima version of the Andean favorite pachamanca, a beef and pork dish cooked
underground while buried with hot coals. Try one of two dozen pisco brandies, and save room for dessert: the suspiro de Limena is
extraordinary. A taste will show you how it earned its name, awkwardly translated as the "sigh of the Lima native."
Wrap up your three days near where they started. Next to Café Ole (where you ate your first breakfast) is El Ole Bar, a new establishment
with a relaxing dark wood interior, deep leather chairs, and the best wine list in Peru. It's the perfect place to sit back and savor your new
insight into the long road Lima has traveled, while looking forward to how impressive this reborn capital will be when you return.
|(c) Pace Communications
Hotel El Olivar
Pancho Fierro 194,
San Isidro, Lima; Tel: 221-2121.
(Note: Lima's country/city code is 51-1.)
Pancho Fierro 115,
San Isidro, Lima; Tel: 440-7751.
Pedro de Osma Museum
Pedro de Osma 421
Liebana Antique Shop/Museum
(at intersection with Bajada de Banos),
Bajada de Banos 340,
Pedro de Osma 409,
Av. Larco 111,
San Francisco de Asis Church and
Av. Ancash, Lima.
Plaza de Armas, Lima.
Gran Hotel Bolivar
Jiron de la Union 958,
Plaza San Martin,Lima;
Av. Petit Thouars 5321,
El Pabellon de Caza
Av. Alonso de Molina 1196
Maria Angola Hotel and Casino
Av. La Paz 610,
|Limenos, the natives of Lima, fill
their markets with a kaleidoscope
of hand-spun yarn and exotic rain
|Roam the bluffs around Barranco, and feast on the fresh seafood and
spices of Peru's complex and flavorful cuisine.
bring along a light coat. At the head of Parque
Kennedy is Swiss Café, a Lima icon with
European-style food and a relaxing ambiance.
Inside is more posh, but if the sun is out, sit
outside and watch Miraflores wake up.
Francisco de Asis Church and Monastery (try to
arrive no later than 10 a.m.) and tell him to meet
you four hours later at the Gran Hotel Bolivar on
the Plaza San Martin—the next few hours are a
walking tour of downtown.
remarkably preserved. Take the tour, given in
English or Spanish, in order to see the
meandering catacombs of bone-filled crypts and
the library full of conquest-era handwritten
Walk three blocks to Ucayali 363, the Palacio Torre Tagle. It's the finest and best preserved example of colonial architecture in the country,
and a comprehensive tour takes just 30 minutes. The patio, with hand-carved wooden balconies on the second floor and a 19 th-century
carriage, is awe-inspiring.
Don't linger at Torre Tagle, as you want to complete the four-block walk to the Government Palace by noon. This stately palace has hosted
nearly 200 visiting heads of state. The changing of the guards, dressed in high leather boots and tall ceremonial headgear, is a must-
see. The Plaza de Armas in front of the palace is one of the most impressive in Peru, with the bronze fountain in the center dating from
After the ceremony, walk across the plaza to the five-block Jiron de la Union, a crowded pedestrian walkway that connects to the Plaza
San Martin. You won't want to flaunt your valuables, but don't shy away from the stroll that traces presidential inauguration processions
and passes La Merced Church halfway through on the left, sit of the first Catholic Mass ever performed in Lima.
Lunch is at the Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima's oldest and most aristocratic hotel. Eat on the patio of the bar, and be sure to linger afterward
with a pisco sour; not the hotel's stained glass rotunda, where a string quartet plays most afternoons.
After lunch, have your driver, who should be waiting outside, take you to the Indian Markets along Petit Thouars in Miraflores. Wander
through the five major markets along a 700-meter stretch and view artisans' products from around Peru. You'll find the prices very
Back at El Olivar, drop off your purchases and dress for dinner at El Pabellon de Caza (The Hunting Lodge) near the Museum of Gold in
Monterrico. This intimate place with hunting trophies lining the walls has a French chef who blends Peruvian and French techniques. Try
one of the tiraditos—an uncommon version of cebiche with more fish and no vegetables—and the tournedos a la pimiento verde (beef
tournedors in a mild green pepper sauce) or langostinos gigantes a la parrilla (grilled jumbo shrimp) as a main dish.
Wrap up the evening on the crest of one of the newest waves in the city. Lima is part of the worldwide boom in casino gambling, and the
downstairs casino of the Maria Angola Hotel is among the oldest and most sophisticated in the city.
|After shopping for colorful handicrafts, stroll through the
Plaza de Armas, where echoes of colonialism still
reverberate from the cathedral's towers.
El Rosario y Nicolas de Rivera,
San Isidro, Lima.
Larco Hererra Museum
Av. Bolivar 1515,
Pueblo Libre, Lima;
Av. Costanera 700,
San Miguel, Lima;
El Senorio de Sulco
Malecon Cisneros 1470
El Ole Bar
Pancho Fierro 110,
San Isidro, Lima;
|Plaza San Martin is one of the jewels of the colonial section of downtown Lima.