Which highlights and attractions are not to be missed on your holiday in Lima? Here you will find a list of the top 10 attractions in Lima!
Peru's capital Lima is much more than just the starting point for a trip to Peru - or at least it should be! Many Peru holidaymakers only arrive in Lima by plane, but it is definitely worth spending one or two nights in the Peruvian metropolis. There are magnificent colonial buildings in the old town, interesting museums and the largest fortress in the Americas to discover.
Table of contents
Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor)
As in most larger South American cities, the central square in Lima's old town is called Plaza de Armas. Surrounded by magnificent architectural monuments, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this is also where you will find the seat of Peru's government and Lima's city hall (Palacio Municipal).
Article: Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas) in Lima
Photo gallery: Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas) in Lima
Cathedral and Bishop's Palace
Lima's impressive cathedral and the archbishop's palace dominate the eastern side of the Plaza de Armas. With its masterfully decorated granite façade and cedar balconies, it seems to have stepped out of a fantasy film. In fact, it dates from 1924, making it one of Lima's finest examples of neo-colonial architecture.
The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in addition to its impressive interior, houses the final resting places of numerous personalities who played an important role in Peru's history. Among others, the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, who once founded Lima, is buried here.
Article: Lima Cathedral
Article: Palace of the Archbishop in Lima
The Franciscan monastery with its impressive double-towered façade is also located on the Plaza de Armas and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the monastery and cathedral itself, the immeasurable treasures of the library, the somewhat different "Last Supper" and the approximately 70,000 skulls and bones in the catacombs are also worth seeing.
Article: Franciscan Monastery in Lima
Plaza San Martin
After the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza San Martin is the second square worth seeing in Lima's UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. A statue of the "Libertador", after whom the square is named, sits enthroned amidst imposing neo-colonial buildings. José San Martin was one of the rebellion leaders who led Peru to independence from Spain.
Article: Plaza San Martin in Lima
Iglesia Nuestra Señora La Merced
The Iglesia Nuestra Señora La Merced was built in 1535 and is today considered the most beautiful church in Lima. The richly decorated baroque façade was faithfully restored down to the smallest detail after its destruction. Once a year, it is the destination of one of the largest processions in America.
Article: Iglesia Nuestra Señora La Merce in Lima
Iglesia Las Nazarenas
The procession that leads to the Iglesia La Merced starts at the Iglesia Las Nazarenas. It is held every year in October in honour of the patron saint of the town, Señor de los Milagros. The Iglesia Las Nazarenas is also famous for the history of its altarpiece. Miraculously, the wall on which it was painted has survived all earthquakes and all attempts by the Spanish viceroy to remove the painting since the early 17th century. Reason enough to build a church around it.
Article: Iglesia Las Nazarenas in Lima
Museu de la Nación
On Av. Javier Prado Este in the southern city centre of Lima is the Museu de la Nación, where Peru's history is presented in an impressive way. The museum was opened on 1 March 1990 and is located in an almost ugly concrete block that looks anything but inviting from the outside. Once you have overcome the visual barrier, however, you will discover true treasures from Peru's history behind the massive walls.
Exhibitions at the Museu de la Nación
The Museu de la Nación is dedicated to the entire history of Peru's settlement and includes an enormous collection of pre-Columbian artefacts. All the important peoples who settled in Peru from the Stone Age onwards are brought back to life here in the form of thousands of very different exhibits. In addition to the Inca culture, probably Peru's most famous early people, the cultures of the Moche, Chavin, Nazca and Wari are also represented.
On display are mainly ceramics, stone engravings, figurines and jewellery, some of which are several thousand years old. The most famous exhibits in the Museu de la Nación are the unique collections of Nazca, Wari and Moche ceramics, a statue of Lanzón, the supreme deity of the Chavin people, who probably practised the first major religion in the Andes, and a replica of the burial chamber of "El Señor de Sipán". This moche mummy was discovered in Sipán in 1987 in astonishingly good condition and is one of the most important archaeological finds of the late 20th century.
On the 6th floor, the photography exhibition "Yuyanpaq, Para Recordar" features moving images compiled by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "Yuyanpaq" is Quechua for "to remember" and documents the controversial civil war conflict that gripped the country from 1980 to 2000 and claimed an estimated 70,000 lives.
Fort Real Felipe
Fort Real Felipe is the largest fortification once built by the Spanish on the American continent. Fittingly, the huge fortress now functions as a military museum and can also be visited from the inside during guided tours.
Article: Fort Real Felipe in Lima
Museo de Historia Natural
The Museo de Historia Natural (UNMSM), Peru's most important natural history museum, is located at 1256 Avenida Arenales in the capital Lima. It was founded in 1918 by the science faculty of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and has since presented the flora and fauna, as well as the ecology and geology of Peru throughout the history of the earth. It has been located in its current building since 1934.
Exhibitions at the Museo de Historia Natural of Lima
The first departments of the museum included zoology, mineralogy and botany. Several expeditions to the Andes and to research sites all over Peru made the collection of the Museo de Historia Natural grow steadily.
Today, the museum is divided into four departments: Botany, Geology, Zoology and Ecology. These house an impressive collection of animals and plants representing the flora and fauna of Peru.
There are primates, mammals, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, fish, dinosaurs, fossils and minerals, some of which are embedded in their natural landscapes. Highlights include the gigantic skeleton of a sperm whale, fossils of South American prehistoric horses and the fossilised remains of giant sloths.
In addition to presenting exhibits, the Lima Natural History Museum is also dedicated to categorising and conserving its collections. Specimens from all over the country are studied in the museum's research facility to gain scientific knowledge.
Internationally recognised conferences in the in-house auditorium underline the importance of the Peruvian Museo de Historia Natural. Its impressive specialist library includes publications from the museum.
Palace of Justice in Lima
The monumental Palace of Justice in the centre of Lima is an impressive symbol of the country's judiciary. The eclectic palace houses the Supreme Court of Peru and all the courts of Lima. Various investigations of unsolved cases of people in pre-trial detention also take place in the basement of the building.
The neo-colonial building was decided in the course of a project to modernise and "westernise" Lima under Augusto Leguia. Its design, with clear Greek and Roman elements, was created by the Polish architect Bruno Paprowsky, who was inspired by the Palace of Justice in Brussels.
After President Augusto Leguia was overthrown in a military coup in 1930, the plans for the central court were also slightly changed. The Palace of Justice was inaugurated on 5 December 1939 by the then new President Oscar R. Benavides, about a year after the inauguration of today's Lima Government Palace at the Plaza Mayor.
Two snow-white marble lions, which stand out clearly against the dark granite of the rest of the façade, flank the imposing staircase that leads to the main portal of the Palace of Justice. Unfortunately, the magnificent building can only be visited from the outside, but even from a distance it offers a majestic sight.