"The City of the Kings"
Lima is the capital of Peru located on the arid Pacific coast of the country. Although its colonial center is preserved, it is an overflowing metropolis and one of the largest cities in South America. The Larco Museum houses a collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museum of the Nation traces the history of the ancient civilizations of Peru. The Plaza de Armas and the 16th century cathedral are the core of the old center of Lima.
Learn about the history that the Old City of the Kings keeps for its visitors behind its metropolis.
Lima is the capital and most populous city of the Republic of Peru. It is located on the central coast of the country, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, forming an extensive and populous urban area known as Metropolitan Lima, flanked by the coastal desert and extended over the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers.
On January 18, 1535, the Spanish foundation was made with the name of the City of the Kings in the agricultural region known by the natives as Limaq, a name that it acquired over time. It was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the largest and most important city in South America during Spanish imperial America. After Independence it became the capital of the Republic.
The City of the Kings, the noble title that so far holds, Lima grows as a metropolis quickly and modernly. Being the only capital city of America located by the sea, Lima is populous (more than 8 million inhabitants) and is full of attractions and restaurants of international fame. It is the gastronomic capital of America and only for that reason, one of the many that it has, becomes a pleasant tourist focus. Its beaches, likewise, offer us the beauty of its women and its waves. Its neighborhoods, on the other hand, will show us the deep heart of a city that demonstrates the thriving destiny of Peru.
The climate of the city is especially particular given its situation. It combines an almost total absence of rainfall, with a very high level of atmospheric humidity and persistent cloud cover. Thus, it surprises with its strange characteristics despite being located in a tropical zone at 12 degrees south latitude and almost at sea level. The Peruvian central coast shows a series of atypical microclimates due to the influential and cold Humboldt current that derives from Antarctica, the proximity of the Andes mountain range and its geographical location, giving Lima a subtropical, fresh, desert climate and humid at the same time.
The altitude is 161 m s. n. m.
13° 30′ 45″. Our latitude indicates that we should have a tropical or equatorial weather, but it is not like that. Qosqo is cooler because of its high altitude.
– Lima Department: 2672.28 km²
The city of Lima is located between the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Pachacámac was an important religious center for some pre-Hispanic cultures before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.
Although the history of the city of Lima began with its Spanish foundation in 1535, the territory formed by the valleys of the Rímac, Chillón and Lurín rivers was occupied by pre-Inca settlements, which were grouped under the lordship of Ichma. Maranga culture and Lima culture were the ones that established and forged an identity in these territories. During those times the sanctuaries of Lati (now Puruchuco) and Pachacámac (the main pilgrimage sanctuary during the time of the Incas) were built.
These cultures were conquered by the Wari Empire during the height of its imperial expansion. It is during this time that the ceremonial center of Cajamarquilla was built. Before the decline of Wari importance, local cultures regained autonomy , highlighting the Chancay culture. Later, in the fifteenth century, these territories were incorporated into the Inca empire. From this time we can find a variety of huacas throughout the city, some of which are under investigation .
The most important or known are those of Huallamarca, Pucllana and Mateo Salado, all located in the middle of Lima’s districts with very high urban growth, so they are surrounded by business and residential buildings; However, that does not hinder its perfect state of preservation. On the outskirts of the city are the ruins of Pachacámac, an important religious center built by the Lima culture 3000 years ago and that was used even until the time when the Spanish conquerors arrived.
In 1532, the Spaniards and their indigenous allies (of the ethnic groups submitted by the Incas) under the command of Francisco Pizarro took Atahualpa prisoner in the city of Cajamarca. Although a ransom was paid, he was sentenced to death for political and strategic reasons. After some battles, the Spaniards conquered their empire. The Spanish crown appointed Francisco Pizarro governor of the lands he had conquered. Pizarro decided to found the capital in the Rímac river valley, after the failed attempt to establish it in Jauja.
He considered that Lima was strategically located, close to a favorable coast for the construction of a port but prudently away from it as to prevent attacks by pirates and foreign powers, on fertile lands and with a convenient cool climate. Thus, on January 18, 1535, Lima was founded under the name of Ciudad de los Reyes, named in honor of the epiphany, on territories that had been the curaca Taulichusco. The explanation of this name is because «By the same dates of January the Spaniards were looking for the place for the foundation of the site of the new city, […] not far from the Pachacámac sanctuary, near the Rímac river.
However, as with the region, initially called Nueva Castilla and then Peru, the City of the Kings soon lost its name in favor of Lima. ”Pizarro, with the collaboration of Nicolás de Ribera, Diego de Agüero and Francisco Quintero personally traced the Plaza de Armas and the rest of the city grid, building the Viceroyalty Palace (now transformed into the Government Palace of Peru, which hence retains the traditional name of Casa de Pizarro) and the Cathedral, whose first stone Pizarro laid with his own hands.In August 1536, the flourishing city was besieged by the troops of Manco Cápac II, but the Spaniards and their indigenous allies managed to defeat them.In the following years Lima gained prestige by to be designated capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and headquarters of a Royal Audience in 1543.
During the next century, it prospered as the center of an extensive commercial network that integrated the viceroyalty with America, Europe and East Asia. But the city was not free of dangers; violent earthquakes destroyed much of it between 1586 and 1687, which will provoke a great display of constructive activity. It is then that aqueducts, tajamares and retaining walls appear before the flooding of the rivers, the bridge over the Rímac is finished, the Cathedral is built (finished in 1622) and numerous hospitals, convents and monasteries are built. The city is articulated around its neighborhoods. Another threat was the presence of pirates and privateers in the Pacific Ocean, which motivated the construction of the walls of Lima between 1684 and 1687.
The earthquake of 1687 marked a turning point in the history of Lima, as it coincided with a recession in trade due to economic competition with other cities such as Buenos Aires. With the creation of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717, political demarcations were organized again, and Lima lost only territories that actually enjoyed their autonomy. In 1746 a strong earthquake severely damaged the city and destroyed Callao, forcing a massive reconstruction effort by Viceroy José Antonio Manso de Velasco.
In the second half of the 18th century, the ideas of enlightenment about public health and social control influenced the development of the city. During this period, the Peruvian capital was affected by the Bourbon reforms as it lost its monopoly over foreign trade and its control over the important mining region of Upper Peru.This economic weakening led the city’s elite to depend on the charges granted by the viceregal government and the Church, which contributed to keeping them more linked to the Crown than to the cause of independence.
The greatest political-economic impact that the city experienced at that time came with the creation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, which changed the direction and the orientations imposed by the new commercial traffic. Chileans led by General Don José de San Martín landed in southern Lima in 1820, but did not attack the city. Faced with a naval blockade and guerrilla action on the mainland, Viceroy José de la Serna was forced to evacuate the city in July 1821 to save the realistic army. Fearing a popular uprising and lacking the means to impose order, the City Council invited St. Martin to enter the city, signing a Declaration of Independence at his request, however, the war was not over and in the following Two years the city changed hands many times, suffering abuse from both sides.
Proclaimed the independence of Peru in 1821 by General San Martin, Lima became the capital of the new Republic of Peru. Thus, it was the seat of the government of the liberator and also the seat of the first Constituent Congress that the country had in. The first years of Peruvian republican history were characterized by the constant confrontation between military leaders, who aimed to govern the country and for what which tried to take the seat of government.
Thus, Lima suffered several sieges and armed clashes in its streets. From the urban point of view, the constant growth that the city experienced gave rise to a phenomenon of modernization. In 1862 the process of change in the urban nomenclature of the city began and in 1868, at the disposal of President José Balta, the demolition of the surrounding walls was arranged, giving way to the first major avenues.
Because of the Pacific War, between 1881 and 1883 Lima was occupied by Chilean forces; after the withdrawal of the Chilean Army, a reconstruction process began, which was limited due to the clashes between Andrés Avelino Cáceres and Nicolás de Piérola In the last years of the 19th century, with Piérola assuming power and At the beginning of what was called the Aristocratic Republic, it began its true and intense reconstruction that lasted until the renovations that Augusto Leguía carried out in preparation for the centenary of independence in 1921. At the beginning of the 20th century the construction of avenues began. serve as a matrix for the development of the city. The Paseo de la República avenues were laid out, Leguía (now called Arequipa), Brazil and the Salaverry landscape that were heading south and Venezuela and Colonial avenues to the west joining the port of Callao.
In the 1930s the great constructions began with the remodeling of the Government Palace and the Municipal House. These constructions had their peak in the 1950s, during the government of Manuel A. Odría when the large buildings of the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Education were built (Javier Alzamora Valdez Building, currently the headquarters of the Superior Court of Justice of Lima), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and the Workers’ and Employee Insurance Hospitals as well as the National Stadium and several large housing units.
Also in those years a phenomenon began that changed the configuration of the city, which was the massive immigration of settlers from the interior of the country producing the exponential growth of the capital population and the consequent urban expansion. on land near the center which was used as an agricultural area. The current districts of Lince, La Victoria were populated to the south; Breña and Pueblo Libre to the west; El Agustino, Ate and San Juan de Lurigancho to the east and San Martín de Porres y Comas to the north.
As an emblematic point of this expansion, the self-managed community of Villa El Salvador (current district of Villa El Salvador) was created in 1973, located 30 km south of the city center and currently integrated into the metropolitan area. Terrorist violence added to the disorderly growth of the city the increase of settlers who arrived as internally displaced.The historical center of the city suffered a growing deterioration and many areas of the city constantly lacked basic services.
According to early Spanish articles the Lima area was once called Itchyma, after its original inhabitants. However, even before the Inca occupation of the area in the 15th century, a famous oracle in the Rímac valley had come to be known by visitors as Limaq (Limaq, pronounced [ˈli.mɑq], which means “talker” or “speaker” in the coastal Quechua that was the area’s primary language before the Spanish arrival). This oracle was eventually destroyed by the Spanish and replaced with a church, but the name persisted: the chronicles show “Límac” replacing “Ychma” as the common name for the area.
Modern scholars speculate that the word “Lima” originated as the Spanish pronunciation of the native name Limaq. Linguistic evidence seems to support this theory as spoken Spanish consistently rejects stop consonants in word-final position. Non-Peruvian Spanish speakers may mistakenly define the city name as the direct Spanish translation of “lime”, the citrus fruit.
The city was founded in 1535 under the name City of Kings (Spanish: Ciudad de los Reyes) because its foundation was decided on 6 January, date of the feast of the Epiphany. This name quickly fell into disuse, and Lima became the city’s name of choice; on the oldest Spanish maps of Peru, both Lima and Ciudad de los Reyes can be seen together.
The river that feeds Lima is called Rímac and many people erroneously assume that this is because its original Inca name is “Talking River” (the Incas spoke a highland variety of Quechua in which the word for “talker” was pronounced [ˈrimɑq]). However, the original inhabitants of the valley were not Incas. This name is an innovation arising from an effort by the Cuzco nobility in colonial times to standardize the toponym so that it would conform to the phonology of Cuzco Quechua.
Later, as the original inhabitants died out and the local Quechua became extinct, the Cuzco pronunciation prevailed. Nowadays, Spanish-speaking locals do not see the connection between the name of their city and the name of the river that runs through it. They often assume that the valley is named after the river; however, Spanish documents from the colonial period show the opposite to be true.
Historically, the Flag of Lima has been known as the “Banner of Peru’s Kings’ City”. It is made from a golden-colored silk canvas and embroidered in the center is its coat of arms.
Lima’s anthem was heard for the first time on 18 January 2008, in a formal meeting with important politicians, including Peruvian President Alan García, and other authorities. The anthem was created by Luis Enrique Tord (lyrics), Euding Maeshiro (music) and record producer Ricardo Núñez (arranger).
The Historic Centre
Sanctuary of Las Nazarenas
Monastery of San Francisco
Gastronomical Capital of the Americas
San Isidro District
Why You Should Visit Lima, The City Of Kings
Many visitors to Peru skip exploring Lima, the capital city, in their excitement to get to Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu, South America’s main attraction. This would be a mistake. Lima has much to offer travelers, meriting more exploration than a mere stop-over on the way to somewhere else.
In addition to being a stark contrast to the rest of the country, which in itself makes it worthy of being seen, Lima has a burgeoning food scene; interesting museums, with fantastic guided programs; green spaces and parks, which is an amazing feat in a city with a metro population of nearly 10 million people; and a deep colonial history.
Read on to discover the best places to visit during your sojourn, or extended stay, in The City of Kings.
The Miraflores District
Miraflores is one of the safest neighborhoods, with the best views of the Pacific Ocean. Walk along the malecón, a six-mile boardwalk perched on clifftops, where you’ll see joggers and people stretching in the grass.
Make your way to Parque del Amor or Park of Love. Kiss under El Beso, Peruvian artist Victor Delfin’s famous sculpture, and the site of past kissing contests and celebrations on Valentine’s Day.
Continue on to Larcomar, an upscale shopping district with several restaurants (order ceviche and pisco sours), including Punto Azul, Tanta, La Trattoria, and Papachos. Keep heading south, and you’ll reach Barranco, the bohemian quarter.
Adventure-seekers will love parasailing at Antonio Raimondi Park. You’ll run off a cliff and sail over the ocean. If you’re a surfer, check out Costa Verde.
Animal lovers will get their fill at Kennedy Park, home to hundreds of protected stray cats, situated in the heart of the Miraflores District and walking distance from the hotel’s mentioned below. The park is surrounded by vendors selling fried syrup-covered picarones and cinnamon churros out of mobile carts, tiny shops bursting with handmade goods and touristy tchotchkes, and locals going about their day, with kids in tow.
The privately owned Larco Museum, established in 1926, houses one of the largest collections of Pre-Columbian erotic pottery and art. Not only does the public have access to the gallery, but also, tourists can view the storerooms where hundreds of shelves are filled with more pottery.
This archaeological museum also has an extensive collection of gold and jewelry, once used by Peruvian rulers; metal artifacts; and textiles, all of which are representative of more than 5,000 years of history.
The museum can coordinate private tours of the human sacrifice and cannibalism exhibits to help visitor’s understand the relics of the Moche religion.
Additionally, there is a gift shop and café on the flower-filled grounds.
Experience Luxury and Glamour
Built in 1927 and declared a Peruvian Cultural Monument, Country Club Lima Hotel emanates old-world allure, with art work from the Pedro de Osma Museum on display throughout the property, an award-winning restaurant, and luxury accommodations. Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne, Ava Gardner and Presidents from around the globe have stayed here.
Located in the San Isidro Financial District, this hotel is home to one of the best restaurants in all of Lima: Perroquet Restaurant, the five-time winner of the Summum Prize.
The Historic Center of Lima
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Plaza De Armas De Lima, the birthplace of the city, is full of colonial architecture, palaces, cathedrals, and government buildings, located in the Historic Center of Lima. Bones rest below the San Francisco Church in the catacombs and the Roman Catholic Lima Cathedral preserves its colonial façade.
Unless you do your research ahead of time, it’s best to enlist the help of an experienced tour guide to understand what you’re looking at while touring the heart of Lima.
Tip: Abercrombie & Kent can organize an expedition for your private party on a Luxury Tailor Made Journey, which enables you to utilize local guides on a custom itinerary based on your personal interests.
Notable people from Lima
St. Rose of Lima
St. Martin de Porres
Chef of Peruvian Cuisine
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Former UN Secretary General
Gian Marco Zignago Singer
Juan Diego Florez
Tenor Opera Singer
film director, writer and producer.
Lima is served by Jorge Chávez International Airport, located in Callao (LIM). It is the country’s largest airport hosting the largest number of domestic and international passengers. It serves as the fourth-largest hub in the Latin American air network. Lima possesses five other airports: the Las Palmas Air Force Base, Collique Airport and runways in Santa María del Mar, San Bartolo and Chilca.
Lima is a major stop on the Pan-American Highway. Because of its location on the country’s central coast, Lima is an important junction in Peru’s highway system. Three major highways originate in Lima.
- The Northern Panamerican Highway extends more than 1,330 kilometers (830 mi) to the border with Ecuador connecting the northern districts and with many major cities along the northern Peruvian coast.
- The Central Highway (Spanish: Carretera Central) connects the eastern districts and with cities in central Peru. The highway extends 860 kilometers (530 mi) with its terminus at the city of Pucallpa near Brazil.
- The Southern Panamerican Highway connects the southern districts and to cities on the southern coast. The highway extends 1,450 kilometers (900 mi) to the border with Chile.
The city has one big bus terminal next to the mall Plaza Norte. This bus station is the point of departure and arrival point for national and international destinations. Other bus stations serve private bus companies around the city. In addition, informal bus stations are located in the south, center and north of the city.
Lima’s proximity to the port of Callao allows Callao to act as the metropolitan area’s major port and one of Latin America’s largest. Callao hosts nearly all maritime transport for the metropolitan area. A small port in Lurín serves oil tankers due to a nearby refinery. Maritime transport inside Lima city limits is relatively insignificant compared to that of Callao.
Lima is connected to the Central Andean region by the Ferrocarril Central Andino which runs from Lima through the departments of Junín, Huancavelica, Pasco and Huánuco. Major cities along this line include Huancayo, La Oroya, Huancavelica and Cerro de Pasco. Another inactive line runs from Lima northwards to the city of Huacho. Commuter rail services for Lima are planned as part of the larger Tren de la Costa project.
Lima’s road network is based mostly on large divided avenues rather than freeways. Lima operates a network of nine freeways – the Via Expresa Paseo de la Republica, Via Expresa Javier Prado, Via Expresa Grau, Panamericana Norte, Panamericana Sur, Carretera Central, Via Expresa Callao, Autopista Chillon Trapiche and the Autopista Ramiro Priale.
According to a 2012 survey, the majority of the population uses public or collective transportation (75.6%), while 12.3% uses a car, taxi or motorcycle.
The urban transport system is composed of over 652 transit routes that are served by buses, microbuses and combis. The system is unorganized and is characterized by its informality. The service is run by 464 private companies that are poorly regulated by local government. Fares average one sol or US$0.40.
Taxis are mostly informal and unmetered; they are cheap but feature poor driving habits. Fares are agreed upon before the passenger enters the taxi. Taxis vary in size from small four-door compacts to large vans. They account for a large part of the car stock. In many cases they are just a private car with a taxi sticker on the windshield. Additionally, several companies provide on-call taxi service.
Colectivos render express service on some major roads. The colectivos signal their specific destination with a sign on their windshield. Their routes are not generally publicitized but are understood by frequent users. The cost is generally higher than public transport; however, they cover greater distances at greater speeds due to the lack of stops. This service is informal and is illegal. Some people in the periphery use so-called “mototaxis” for short distances.
Metropolitan Transport System
The Metropolitan Transport System or El Metropolitano is a new, integrated system, consisting of a network of buses that run in exclusive corridors under the Bus Rapid Transit system (BST). The goal is to reduce passengers’ commute times, protect the environment, provide improved security and overall quality of service. Metropolitano was executed with funds from the City of Lima and financing from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. Metropolitana is the first BRT system to operate with natural gas, seeking to reduce air pollution. This system links the principal points of the Lima Metropolitan Area. The first phase of this project has 33 kilometres (21 mi) of line (north) to Chorrillos (south). It began commercial operations on 28 July 2010. Since 2014, Lima Council operates the “Sistema Integrado de Transporte Urbano” (Urban integrated transport system), which comprises buses over Avenida Arequipa. By the end of 2012, the Metropolitano system counted 244 buses in its central routes and 179 buses in its feeding routes. Weekday use averages 437,148 passengers. Usage increased since 2011 by 28.2% for weekdays, 29.1% for Saturdays and 33.3% for Sundays.
The Lima Metro has twenty six passenger stations, located at an average distance of 1.2 km (0.7 miles). It begins in the Industrial Park of Villa El Salvador, south of the city, continuing on to Av. Pachacútec in Villa María del Triunfo and then to Av. Los Héroes in San Juan de Miraflores. Afterwards, it continues through Av. Tomás Marsano in Surco to reach Ov. Los Cabitos, to Av. Aviación and then cross the river Rimac to finish, after almost 35 km (22 mi), in the east of the capital in San Juan de Lurigancho. The system operates 24 trains, each with six wagons. Each wagon has the capacity to transport 233 people. The metro system began operating in December 2012 and transported 78,224 people on average on a daily basis.
Other transportation issues
Lima has high traffic congestion, especially at peak hours. 1 million 397 thousand vehicles were in use by the end of 2012. The region operates 65.3% of the cars in the country.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) offered economic incentives for municipalities to implement bicycle routes in their districts. Recreational bike lanes can be found in 39 districts. The Proyecto Especial Metropolitano de Transporte No Motorizado (PEMTNM) estimates that more than a million and a half people used the bike lanes in 2012. The bike lanes ran for 71 km (44 mi). They estimate that the use of the bike lanes prevented the emission of 526 tons of carbon dioxide in 2012.
San Borja district was the first to implement a bike-share program called San Borja en Bici. It supplied 200 bicycles and six stations across the district (two of them connecting with the Metro). By December 2012, the program had 2,776 subscribers.
Peru Travel information
When to travel to Peru? Considering that Peru is categorized as one of the 17 megadiverse countries on earth, you have a variety of climates and seasons to consider. That being said, you can visit Peru year-round depending on where you would like to visit. However, if you are looking to explore the Amazonian rainforest or traverse through the Andes Mountains, many travelers choose to avoid the rainy season which runs from November to March with its peak between January and February. Visiting from April through October lands you in the generally dry winter season, which is an excellent time to visit Machu Picchu, experience a world-class trek, traverse the exotic Amazon Rain forest not to mention the other amazing destinations Peru has to offer. Speak with a Qosqo Expeditions Designer today to discover the best time for you to experience a luxury tour of Peru.
(UTC/GMT -5 hours)
Lima, Peru`s Capital City
Peru`s Population: Approx. 31 million
Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Official Currency: Peruvian Sol
12 designated UNESCO sites