When the Spanish first arrived here, the valley was dominated by three important Inca-controlled urban complexes: Carabayllo to the north near Chillón; Maranga, now partly destroyed by the Avenue La Marina, between the modern city and the Port of Callao; and Surco, now a suburb within the confines of greater Lima but where, until the mid-seventeenth century, the adobe houses of ancient chiefs lay empty yet painted in a variety of colourful images.
Arrived for the first time on the shores of the Peru in 1527, the Spaniards will need eight years to conquer the Inca Empire. In 1535, Francisco Pizarro can finally achieve his dream of creating a Kingdom with a capital open to the sea: Lima, founded on the banks of the River Rimac on January 18 in 1535, day of the Epiphany, hence its name of "City of the Kings". On the all-new Plaza de Armas, Pizarro built Palace of Viceroy (today the Government Palace) and the first Christian oratory (the Cathedral). By the 1550s the town had grown up around a large plaza with wide streets leading through a fine collection of mansions, all elegantly adorned by wooden terraces, and well-stocked shops run by wealthy merchants. Since the very beginning, Spanish Lima has been different from the more popular image of Peru. It looks out, away from the Andes and the past, towards the Pacific for contact with the world beyond.
Lima rapidly developed into the capital of a Spanish viceroyalty which encompassed not only Peru but also Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. In 1551, the first University in the new world, the University of San Marcos, was created. Lima became the centre of a flourishing commercial network integrating with Europe and Asia and still holding the monopoly of the trade with Spain. Lima also housed the headquarters of the Inquisition from 1570 until 1813. It remained the most important, the richest and - hardly credible today - the most alluring city in South America, until the early nineteenth century.
The eighteenth century, a period of relative stagnation for Lima, was dramatically punctuated by the tremendous earthquake of 1746, which left only twenty houses standing in the whole city and killed some five thousand residents - nearly ten percent of the population. From 1761 to 1776 Lima and Peru were governed by Viceroy Amat, who, although more renowned for his relationship with the famous Peruvian actress La Perricholi, is also remembered as the instigator of Lima's rebirth. Under him the city lost its cloistered atmosphere, opening out with broad avenues, striking gardens, rococo mansions and palatial salons. Influenced by the Bourbons, Amat's designs for the city's architecture arrived hand in hand with other transatlantic reverberations of the enlightenment.
Despite the earthquakes and repetitive local tribes- and pirate attacks (which required the construction of a wall all around the city), and many civil wars, Lima loses its supremacy of the Vice-Royalty capital with independence almost 300 years after its creation. At the beginning of the 19th century, it is the last bastion of the Spanish resistance during the wars of independence. But on July 28, 1821, Don José de San Martín proclaimed the independence of the Peru on the Plaza de Armas of the city. Lima became capital of a single State, and nor a Vice-Royaume marks the beginning of the decline of its power.
In the nineteenth century Lima expanded still further to the east and south. The suburbs of Barrios Altos and La Victoria were poor from the start; above the beaches at Magdalena, Miraflores and Barranco, the wealthy developed new enclaves of their own. These were originally separated from the centre by several kilometres of farmland, at that time still studded with fabulous pre-Inca huacas and other adobe ruins.
The colonial Lima has retained a beautiful historic centre, a jewel of colonial architecture and classified cultural heritage of humanity by Unesco in 1991, at the impressive colonial buildings decorated with beautiful balconies of engineered wood.
Today, the Capital of Peru agitated city concentrated economic power and political countries has more than eight million inhabitants of which most are immigrants from other parts of the Peru.
Today the city is as cosmopolitan as any other in the developing world, with a thriving middle class enjoying living standards comparable to those of the West or better, and an elite riding around in chauffeur-driven Cadillacs and heading to Miami for their monthly shopping. The vast majority of Lima's inhabitants, however - who form the very core and essence of the city - scrape together meagre incomes and live in poor conditions.
Nowadays Lima offers for the tourists numerous sight-seeing options, not only in the historical centre. You can also stroll around in its tourist areas such as Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro, where you can enjoy the day. Lima also has many very interesting museums such as the Museum of gold and Museo Larco.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Pachacamac Temple, God, creator of the universe, located about 30 kilometers south of the city.
Finally, you will recognize that Lima is also the gastronomic capital of South America, where you'll find a tasty and varied cuisine specialized in fish and seafood.
Pachacamac , ruins of a walled Native American settlement at about 25 mi (40 km) SE of Lima in the Lurin Valley. This site, which contains a number of pyramids, was considered one of the mos...Read more