Peru’s capital is a huge city fanning out on a desert plain along the Pacific coast. It was here that Francisco Pizarro founded his new capital in 1535 after conquering the Incan empire, calling it the City of Kings. Extraordinary collections at the National Museum, Museo Larco and National Archaeology and Anthropology Museum reveal the splendor of Peru’s pre-conquest civilizations. Colonial development centered on the Plaza Mayor, location of the Government Palace (home of Peru's president) and the baroque Cathedral of Lima. All over the city, restaurants compete to serve the tastiest, most artfully presented ceviche -- fresh, lime-marinated seafood, best savored with a Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink.
Straddling both banks of the R¡o R¡mac at the foot of the Cerro San Cristobal, the capital of Peru is an eclectic mix of traditional colonial buildings, soaring skyscrapers and Pueblos Jovenes (shanty settlements that blanket the dusty hills overlooking the city).
Home to two-thirds of Peru's industry and nearly one-third of the country's total population, pollution and poverty is highly present this city of seven million. A few miles southwest of the city center, Villa El Salvador shelters 350,000 people.
In spite of its troubles, the city boasts a great many historic monuments, museums for every palate, a lively cultural and arts scene and the country's best food, drink and nightlife.
Most of Lima's sights can be found within the old city, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Attractions include the Palacio Torre Tagle, the city's best surviving specimen of secular colonial architecture; the Museo de Oro del Peru, with its precolumbian metals, weavings and mummies and the Museo de Arte, with more than 7,000 exhibits giving a retrospective of Peruvian cultures and art from 2,000 years ago to the present day.
Lima's many markets overflow with hand-crafted jewelry of silver and gold, Peruvian textiles and ceramics, flowers and fresh produce.
For a break from the city's clamor, duck into Lima's fine baroque churches or take a stroll through its many parks and gardens, some established as early as the 17th century by Lima's Spanish aristocracy.