lunes, 29 de mayo de 2017

Discovering Lima, Historical Center, Walking (V)

We have already mentioned in previous posts some places of interest such as religious buildings, museums or colonial houses. But if we still have some time to spend in Lima, it would be nice to walk through its Historical Center and know its emblematic streets and parks.

Jirón de la Unión

If we have to talk of emblematic places in the city of Lima, Jirón (st.) de la Union will come immediately to our mind. This long, five-block street, which begins at the edge of the Plaza de Armas and continues to Plaza San Martín, was for decades one of the main arteries of the city.

The Lima aristocracy used to go to its cafes and restaurants and from 1870 in this Jirón some writers like Palma, Gonzales Prada or García Calderón went to Literary Club.

The inhabitants of the city could visit the French Bookstore, see a movie at the La Merced cinema-theater or visit buildings of European influence and art deco.

One of its most celebrated buildings was the Palais Concert, home of the Lima intelligentsia and defined the well-known writer, cuentista and poet peruvian Abraham Valdelomar with its famous quote: "Peru is Lima, Lima is Jirón de la Union, Jirón de la Union it is Palais Concert and Palais Concert ... it's me".

The well-known poet César Vallejo was one of the writers that frequented this building; Abandoned decades later and turned into poultry, casino, disco or shoe store. Today the building is part of a popular Chilean clothing chain.

El Jirón de la Unión is currently one of the busiest places in the city, where fast food restaurants, clothing galleries, tattoo studios, ice cream parlors, and street vendors and street performers are paraded. Tourists are advised to be aware of possible pickpockets.

Jiron de la Unión, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Jiron de la Unión, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Palais Concert, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Plaza San Martín

At the end of Jirón de la Unión we will find Plaza San Martín, built at the beginning of the 20th century and inaugurated in July 1921. The square is surrounded by beaux arts buildings and its center is presided over by the equestrian sculpture of the liberator of Peru, José de San Martín, commissioned to the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure.

It is very popular the history of the adornment that the statue shows on it’s head: When the sculptor was asked for a Crown of flames, he confused (by homonymy) the fire with a camelid (llama in spanish means fire as well as camelid).

This square is surrounded by very representative buildings such as Hotel Bolivar, Café Zela, among others, although we will detail them more calmly in the next post about nightlife in the center of Lima. Plaza San Martín is very crowded and is usually the setting for most of the social protests that take place in the city.

Plaza San Martín, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Plaza San Martín, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Barrio Chino

El Barrio Chino is the name traditionally given to Calle Capón, by the traditional Chinese red bow (inaugurated in 1971) and the amount of businesses and restaurants of chifa food (fusion between Chinese and Peruvian) that welcomes this area.

This red bow was a gift from the Government of Taiwan designed by the architect Kuoway Ruiz. After several decades of abandonment, at the end of the 90's a new impulse was given to Chinatown and the face was cleaned to the bow and the street, which until that moment was taken by hundreds of street vendors and criers.

It is a nice place to discover some of its galleries (where they sell Hindu and Chinese products) and eat in one of its restaurants. Although we want to take a closer look at the restaurants we recommend for downtown Lima, take note of this restaurant: Capón Restaurant, which offers a wide menu of chifa food and whose specialty is the Pekingese duck.

Barrio Chino, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Barrio Chino, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Barrio Chino, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Parque de la Muralla

El Parque de la Muralla is located a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, between Lampa and Amazonas shrapnel. This recreational space is named after the vestiges still remain of the old wall that surrounded Lima and wich was demolished in most part in 1870 by the expansion of the city. There is a small museum with some objects of the evolution of the city.

In Parque de la Muralla, the bronze equestrian statue of the conqueror from Extremadura and the founder of the city Francisco Pizarro, located before the Plaza de Armas, has been displaced by the controversy it generates in some citizens who thinks he is responsible for the annihilation of the Inca Empire and culture after the trial and death of the Emperor Atahualpa.

The statue is not even Pizarro himself it but one an anonymous conqueror. It is the third copy of the American sculptor Ramsey MacDonald, dating from the beginning of the 20th century. One copy remained in the USA (Wisconsin); The other went to the city of Pizarro's birth in Extremadura (Trujillo); And the third landed in Lima after Mexico rejected it.

Parque de la Muralla, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Conqueror Francisco Pizarro, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Cerro San Cristobal

If we are in the Historic Center of Lima we can take the bus to go 409 meters of altitude of the San Cristobal Hill and have an excellent view of the city and the Pacific Ocean (although in winter the garua - a species of fine rain similar to the sparkling- can make vision difficult).

Cerro San Cristobal is between the Rímac and San Juan de Lurigancho, surrounded by humble constructions. At the top there is a large cross that dates back to 1928 and is a place of pilgrimage for many limaans when Holy Week begins (april).

Legend states that the spaniards captained by Francisco Pizarro were besieged in 1536 by some 25,000 native warriors (against 500 Spaniards), but when they tried to cross the Rio Rimac they were swept away by the water flow. The Spaniards shouted: "Miracle of San Cristobal!”, So they organized a pilgrimage to the top of the hill and placed a wooden cross next to a chapel.

Both the ancient cross and the chapel were lost in the earthquake of 1746, but devotion for the Holy One remains to this day.

In Plaza de Armas you can hear the voices of representatives of bus companies that offer to climb the Cerro de San Cristobal for the small price of S / 5, leaving when the bus is full. There is also taxi service that can approach the hill for S / 15. It is easy to find the service there and without waiting, but if you want to ask in advance you can contact Urbanito:

Cerro de San Cristobal, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Parque de la Exposición

This park is one of the most emblematic and beautiful of Lima and is located between the avenues Garcilazo de la Vega and 28 de Julio. In it there are several museums that we already mentioned in our blog: The Museum of Art of Lima (MALI), Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Italian Art. Also notable is the amphitheater Nicómedes San Cruz, dedicated to the musicologist and afroperuano folcrorista, deceased in 1992.

This space is used for the celebration and shows of local and international bands and has a capacity for about 4 thousand people. There are also family events, receptions, marriages, anniversaries, among others.

In the La Cabaña Theater plays are shown for children and adults. It is also a place for the realization of crafts and regional fairs. There are recreational facilities for walks (such as a lagoon) and tourist restaurants. SCHEDULE: Mon-Sun 9am to 8pm. Free admission. Phone: (01) 330-9197.

Parque de la Exposición, Barrio Chino, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Circuito Mágico del Agua

We moved a little bit away from the Historic Center, but for its leisure component, we included in this post the Magic Water Circuit of the Reserve Park, located at the corner of Petit Thours Avenue block 5 with Jirón Madre de Dios.

This park is one of the most emblematic places for the foreign tourist and the local visitor, and has 13 interactive sources that combine light, music, movement and laser effects. In 2009, the Magic Water Circuit won the Guinness World Record for the World's Highest Fountain Complex in a public park.

The Fountain of Fantasy (more than 120 meters in length) is the icing on the cake: laser, Creole and pop music, colors, waterfalls .... But the Reserve Park has other attractions as well Art Deco style, with geometric figures and Neoclassical style.

The Fountain of Magic (80 meters high); The Sabogal House (also known as the Inca House), of pre-Columbian figures; The Fountain of the Ñocos, with the sculpture of a child playing marbles; Or the Monument to Fermín Tanguís. SCHEDULE: Tue-Sun 3:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Fantasy Fountain Show Schedule 19.15; 20.15; 21.30. S / 4 entrance. Free for children under 5 years and over 65 years. Phone: (01) 330-3052. Web:

Circuito del Agua, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

Museo de Historia Natural

To finish this post we wanted to name this Natural History Museum of Lima that is located near the Reserve Park, in block 12 of Arequipa Avenue. It depends on the National University of San Marcos (UNMSM) and has four divisions: Botany, Ecology, Geosciences and Zoology. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 9.00 to 17.15; Sat 9.00 to 16.30; Sun and holidays from 10.00 to 13.30. Admission: S / 7. Children and students S / 5. Over 60 years free. Guided tours: S / 25 (in Spanish), S / 40 (in English and French). For this service call in advance. Phone: (01) 470-4471; (01) 619-7000 (annex 5703). Web.

Museo de Historia Natural, Knowing Lima, Historical Center, Walking Lima

We have already walked through the Historical Center of Lima knowing its religious buildings, museums, parks and some places of interest.

If you continue to stroll in the evening, you can relax in a bar and have a pisco sour (the best known and international Peruvian cocktail), a chilcano (pisco with ginger ale and a touch of lemon) or some of the drinks that Lima offers when the sun is hiding. Right! We have not talked about Pisco already! Let us do it in the next post ;)

Francis, Peru Travels Blog
May 2017

domingo, 7 de mayo de 2017

Discovering Lima, Historical Center, Colonial Houses (IV)

Although the Historical Center of Lima is quite neglected in comparison to other major capitals of the region (a recent poll of La República newspaper shows that 81% of voters support this affirmation, compared to 19% that says the opposite), there are some colonial houses that are authentic hidden treasures among the streets of the city. 

We don’t want to enter into a discussion on whether or not the downtown's recovery policies are correct, but in this post we list some of the main colonial buildings that are worth to visit if we have time in our visit. 

The architecture of this period join the Spanish influence, with large facades, marble stairs that arise from large courtyards of tiles, wooden balconies and strong Moorish influence. After the Eighteenth Century with the Viceroy Amat, begins a period French made wood paneled, medallions, feminine curves and vivid colors such as indigo, yellow, green or pink.

Torre Tagle Palace

This mansion located in the third block of  Ucayali street was completed in 1735 by José B. Tagle, with an ornate Baroque portico (limenians says it’s the best of Lima) and Mudejar influence. Its portico has two impressive balconies carved in wood, with a bright churrigueresque Sevillian patio inside. 

On the second floor we’ll find the Sala de los Tratados (Hall of Treaties), which has furnitures of the colonial era. At the present time it is the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reason why its access is restricted. It is recommended to call the cultural office to request a visit. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 9.00 to 13.00 and 15.00 to 17.00. Closed Saturdays and Sundays. Telephone: (01) 311-2400.

Torre Tagle Palace, Historical Center, Colonial Houses Lima

House of Pilates

The current headquarters of the National Institute of Culture is located in Jiron Ancash (Ancash street) 390. Its construction dates back to 1590 and shows two balconies. After the 1740 earthquake lost its great facade and the balconies of neogothic court. Its facade still shows the shields of Esquivel and the marquises of Valle Umbroso.

In the first courtyard there are columns of granite, unique building in Lima with this particularity. According to the commentary by the traditionalist Ricardo Palma, there is a dark legend around this mansion, since the Portuguese Jews who occupied this house about 1635, would perform ceremonies in which they desecrated sacred images. 

Other sources assert that the name of Pilate is attributed by the similarity with the House of Pilate of Seville or with the house of the same Pilates in Jerusalem. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Free admission.

House of Pilates, Historical Center, Colonial Houses Lima

Aliaga House

Located in the popular Jiron de la Unión (Union street) 224, adjacent to the Post Office, it belonged to one of Pizarro's followers in 1535 and has been inherited from generation to generation by members of this family. After the earthquake of 1746 underwent several modifications; Currently has an eclecticism similar to many colonial houses.

On the facade, like so many others, we can observe a republican balcony of carved wood. The entrance of neoclassical style is of about century XVIII. We found engraved the initials J.A.P (Juan de Aliaga y de la Puente) with carved heads of a Greek goddess and a mythological character with beard. 

At the entrance, a large staircase has railings of mahogany balusters and Carrara marble steps. Next to the reception lobby there is a beautiful sculpture of Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus). In its interior we discover a beautiful Gothic chapel with an ivory crucifix dating from the Eighteenth Century. SCHEDULE: This house can be visited through Lima Tours.

Aliaga House, Historical Center, Colonial Houses Lima

De la Riva House

This house is located in Jiron Ica 426 (Ica street) and dates from the 18th century. Its exteriors, like much of the colonial mansions of the Historical Center, have balconies carved in wood. This building is the current headquarters of the Cultural Association ‘Entre Nous’ and the interior halls retain most of their original elements. Its restoration was carried out by the architect Rafael Marquina and finished in 1952. SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri 10.00 a.m. to 13.00 p.m. and 2.00 a.m. to 4.00 pm. Fee S / 5.

De la Riva House, Historical Center, Colonial Houses Lima

The House of Oquendo

The House of Oquendo or Palace of Osambela is located in the Jirón Conde de Superunda (Conde de Superunda street) Nº 298, was finished of construction in 1807 and continues - like the rest of colonial houses of the historical center - with the traditional eclectic style of the Lima of the 1700. It disposes in its facade of five balconies and a viewpoint that the owner (Martín de Osambela) who used them to observe the arrival of the spanish galleons to the Port of Callao. SCHEDULE: The administrator Juan Manuel Ugarte accepts visits in advance. Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Phone: (01) 427-7987.

The Oquendo House, Historical Center, Colonial Houses Lima

These buildings we have succinctly described  represent a look at the colonial past of Lima, the genesis of this city and what would later be the stamentized society of the time. If you have a time in Lima, take a few hours to discover them.

May 2017