The Old Town of Lima, Peru is filled with buildings from its development as a colonial capital beginning in the 16th century after the Spanish explorer Pizarro overtook the region from the Incas.
We watched the changing of the guard in front of the palace. How do these men function in their long-sleeved tunics, helmets, heavy boots, and gloves in the equatorial heat? We were dying in shorts and t-shirts.
The country is about to see a changing of the guard in its political leaders. Peru has close to 30 different parties and they all had giant billboards along the main streets of town.
As in other South American cities, old churches are among the largest and most significant buildings. The Monastery of San Francisco, with a bright yellow facade, sets the color scheme for the whole Centro Historico.
The monastery’s ornate interior
Inside we visited the catacombs where an estimated more than 25,000 bodies were buried. Walking through these dark passages deep underground is a bit creepy, partly from the presence of all these bones and skulls, but also because of being under a massive structure in the heart of earthquake country. Not to worry, according to our guide. The church has withstood many earthquakes in the past. It’s the safest place to be in town (but still creepy).
After coming out of the crypt, we took a tour of the old town at night. An earthquake hit Lima in 1746 destroying many of the original buildings. Newer buildings were added to the site with a similar neo-colonial design and bright colors, making the buildings around Plaza Mayor simply glow.
San Martin has a big presence in Lima. After his travels from Argentina over the Andes to Chile liberating the region from Spanish rule, he continued his path north to Lima and liberated Peru in 1821 in front of the Government Palace.
Moving forward in history, Lima’s mayor made an inspired investment in the city in 2007. A section of the Parque de la Reserva was reinvented as the Magic Water Circuit. Admission to the site has a fee (equivalent to $2 US) and lines of thousands of people formed to access on the Friday night we visited. The park has 13 fountains, some timed with lights and sound, similar to the fountains at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
One of the attractions of the fountains is the opportunity for a hands-on experience, or perhaps foot-on. Visitors come with bathing suits and a change of clothes and join hundreds of others standing on the fountain platform with sprays shooting up and drenching them. While the idea for the fountain park was originally criticized by other civic leaders, the outcome has provided significant affordable pleasure for local residents looking for a fun escape from the heat.
Besame mucho! (Kiss me a lot!) That’s a good description of one of the most famous attractions in Lima, a sculpture of “The Kiss” next to a pleasant walkway along the ocean in the Parque del Amor (Love Park).
People arrive for a romantic sunset with the sun streaming over the wrapped arms and legs of a couple. The artist (and barefoot subject with his wife) is Victor Delfín, who created the sculpture to celebrate the lovers who come to this romantic spot in Miraflores.
We saw one couple who looked to be celebrating their wedding accompanied by a young girl, probably their daughter, photographing them.
Surrounding the sculpture is a serpentine wall of mosaics with deep thoughts and whimsical romantic pairings. These include Romeo and Juliet, of course, but also Ursula and Tito, Cecilia and Alberto, AND Delicia and Alberto. (That Alberto gets around.)
A beautiful way to end our stay in Lima.
Note: This visit was actually in March of 2016, with an extended blogging hiatus before the write-up. Too much life going on in the meantime.