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Travel & Holiday Tips in Peru


Perhaps no other country has more to offer the visitor than Peru; panoramic mountain ranges, vast deserts, beautiful beaches and tropical jungle. All this combined with a rich historical and archaeological past and enduring indigenous cultures. To reflect the importance of tourism to the national economy, PromPerú has set up 15 offices around Peru of Tourist Information and Assistance to help visitors solve any problems they may encounter.


Situated halfway along Peru’s desert coastline, Lima is literally stuck between the desert and the deep blue sea. The valley was once dominated by hundreds of pre-Inca temples and palaces. Pizarro chose the palace of local chief Taurí Chusko as the site of the city’s inauguration on January 6 1535 and thus began Lima’s colonial history, reflected in the opulent mansions with Moorish latticed wooden balconies that grace Lima’s plazas. The main square, Plaza de Armas, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with paths, gardens and an elegant bronze fountain. Surrounding the main plaza are the Cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace, the Town Hall and the impressive Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace). Located at the northern end of the plaza, the latter is a lavish example of colonial opulence. The sumptuous state rooms are adorned with Carrera marble, cedar and mahogany woodcarvings, French glass and Czech crystal. Highlights are the Grand Salon, modelled on the Versaille Palace’s Hall of Mirrors, the dining room adorned with friezes depicting Inca history and the private theatre. Free guided tours operate daily from the visitor’s entrance in Jirón de la Unión. Outside, visitors can admire the elaborate military uniforms in the Changing of the Guard. The Baroque Cathedral has been reconstructed after several earthquakes and its present building is dated around 1758. Visitors should not miss its Museum of Religious Art and Treasures, plus the collection of bones believed to be those of Pizarro himself.

One of the few buildings to withstand the 1746 earthquake is the Church of San Francisco. Recently renovated with the help of UNESCO, this exquisite church has several highlights, including the extraordinary early 17th-century domed cedarwood roof above the broad staircase leading to the cloisters. The library, in its thin, rectangular two-story salon with twin delicate wooden spiral staircases, houses a collection of some 20,000 volumes, plus masterpieces by Jordeans, Rubens and Van Dyck. Underneath the church are the catacombs, complete with ghoulish circular displays of the skulls and bones of some 70,000 souls.

The downtown area of Lima also houses historic colonial mansions, some of which still have connections with the original Spanish families who constructed them. Now occupied by the Foreign Ministry, the Palacio Torre Tagle (1735) with its Moorish-influenced balconies has particularly interesting azulejos (tiles), thought to be the first examples of an artistic fusion between both Native American and European styles. Close by is the striking salmon pink and white stuccoed Post Office built in the 1920s. With wrought iron gates and an arcade roof, the Correo also houses a stamp museum where enthusiasts can buy, trade and sell Peruvian stamps. Peru’s rich cultural heritage is reflected by the variety of museums in the capital. Unmissable for history buffs are the Museo de Oro del Peru (Gold Museum), the Museo de Cultura Peruana (Museum of Peruvian Culture), Museo Larco (which showcases 3,000 years of Peruvian history) and the Museo de la Inquisición y del Congreso (Museum of the Inquisition), with its sinister dungeons. Art-lovers should see Goya’s etchings at the Museo Taurino and the collection of masters at the National Art Museum.

On August 30 visitors can marvel at the religious processions held to honour the city’s patron saint, Santa Rosa de Lima. Later, on October 18, a purple haze descends upon the city as the faithful don purple robes to march in processions, praising El Señor de los Milagros. Cultural attractions aside, areas such as Barranco, Miraflores and San Isidro have much to offer the visitor in the way of shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Malls and department stores are expanding within the city, and the downtown area, particularly the streets around the Plaza de Armas, were remodelled a few years ago. Visitors should not miss the colourful daily market in Lima’s Chinatown district. A good place to get a close look at some of Peru’s diverse wildlife (such as jaguars and condors) is the Zoo, Parque Zoologico Huachipa and Parque de las Leyendas, landscaped to reflect Peru’s three main geographical zones: costa (coast); sierra (mountains); and selva (rainforest).

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