Peru's capital, Lima, exemplifies the nation's remarkable geography: Towering apartment blocks and tall glass buildings perch on top of steep, sandy cliffs, which give way to a palm-fringed coastline and the encroaching sea. Peru is certainly famous for this attribute, with the natural and man-made ancient wonders of Machu Picchu just a day's drive from the capital, but Lima itself has more to offer. According to BBC World Service presenter Javier Lizarzaburu, the city is "South America's best kept secret". We at Engel & Völkers have put together a few travel tips to help you make the most of a trip to Peru's capital.
As the oldest city in the Americas, Lima has a diverse past, with 87 distinct cultural groups having lived in Peru during the last 5,000 years. The Inca and Huari were the most successful, but all left traces of their lives that are now housed in museums for visitors to explore. The Museo Larco is one such place, filled with pre-Colombian ceramic artefacts including the Moche portrait vessels: Strikingly detailed human heads sculpted from pottery created between 100-500 AD. The building itself is an equally enchanting 18th century viceroy's mansion, which features elegant gardens and trailing bougainvillaea. Visitors can sample Peruvian cuisine at the museum's roof terrace restaurant – the Machu steamed sea bass, cooked in Peruvian spices and served with yuca, rice and corn comes highly recommended.
Experience its spirituality
The Huaca Pucllana temple is a 1,500-year-old adobe ruin and one of the most well-preserved historical sites in Lima. Once used for rituals including sacrifice, archaeologists have uncovered Wari mummies and ceramic animal statues, some of which can be seen in the onsite museum. During the day, guided tours are the best way to explore the excavation and learn about the ancient civilisation that left it behind. At night, the site is dramatically illuminated and visible from the Restaurant Huaca Pucllana, which blends Peruvian flavours with classic cooking techniques. For a true taste of the nation, try something from its 'favourites of the Peruvian tradition' menu, which includes a spicy shrimp and quinoa soup and sabana loin with black beans and plantain.
Take a day trip
One of Peru's most renowned wonders is the Nazca lines, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, which visitors can view from above on day trip air tours. These fascinating 300ft geoglyphs, situated just 400km from Lima, depict creatures that were significant to the Nazca people including a hummingbird, condor and flamingo. They're believed to represent the winter and summer solstices, as their beaks point to the place the sun rises on those days. There are numerous theories about the lines' original function, but the most popular notion is that they are connected with water rituals, which would be particularly important in an area that receives just 20 minutes of rain each year.
Lima's fusion of Spanish, Amazonian and ancient influences makes it one of the most intriguing cities to explore in South America. It's also seeing new investment and increased interest in its historical centre, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you're thinking of selling in or relocating to Lima, contact Engel & Völkers for a range of tailored services and expert property advice.