Top places to see in Lima and penthouses to stay: Not as large as the Museo de la Nacion, the National Archaeology, Anthropology, and History Museum does an excellent job of exploring the history of Peru from prehistoric times to the colonial era. The displays are well organized, and you won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of material, making it easier to understand. The variety is impressive, too, with priceless examples of ceramics, figural stone carvings, obelisks, wrapped mummies, burial tombs, jewelry, tapestries, and gold and metal work, many shown with scale models of the archeological sites. The ceramic collection features pieces, which date from 2800 BC, and among the carved obelisks are the granite Tello Obelisk and the famous Estela Raimondi. Parents should be aware that some of the ceramic figures may not be suitable for children. Included with the museum is the adjacent home, once occupied by both Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar.
Underneath Lima’s San Francisco de Lima Basilica and Convent lies the burial site of over 25,000 bodies. The site was used as a burial ground until 1808. Tours of the underground catacombs are offered daily for around $7. This cemetery-turned-museum offers visitors a glimpse into Peruvian history and, in one notable mausoleum, pays homage to those men and women who served their country in the War of the Pacific. This area is where you’ll find Lima’s most breathtaking colonial architecture. Francisco Pizarro established the city’s central square in the 16th century to serve as the capital of colonial South America. Not one building remains from that period, but the area is nonetheless stunning.
Every country has its unique way of partying, and Peru is no different. For a truly authentic experience, head to one of Lima’s most famous penas, a small bar where Creole music played by live bands gives forth to vigorous traditional dancing and plenty of pisco drinking. Unfortunately, many of these penas operate behind the closed doors of people’s houses and a vast majority are only to be found if you know where to look. Don Porfirio in Barranco is one of the most famous but is just open on Fridays, while La Candelaria in the same neighborhood is a more up-market option that’s open Saturdays too. Make sure to book a table, as both are hugely popular with the locals.
Lima is stuffed with old temples, and Magdalena has one of their own, the Huaca Huantille (at the corner of 28 de Julio and Castilla). It was closed the day I went, so if you’d like more information kindly step on over to En Peru, where Stuart as usual has put together a fantastic report. There’s a lot of little places all through Magdalena, but these were some of our favorites: Speciale Cafe – 1229 Jr. Libertad. This cutesy old-time ice cream parlor serves up almost 20 different flavors, including frozen yogurt, and has some of the best espresso in Lima. My tips: get a cup of coffee and a scoop of Cappuccino ice cream to go in it. Rob’s tips: try everything first and then try the Magdalena flavor (with figs, nuts, and chopped cherries) again. They also sell little frozen bonbons that are divine. Find more images of this amazing ocean view penthouse on Facebook. Need a place to stay in Lima, Peru? Explore a few more details at Amazing Penthouse in Lima, Peru.
Safely hidden in a side street is Casa Aliaga, one of the lesser-known attractions in Lima. As old as Lima itself, the house stands on land given in 1535 to Jeronimo de Aliaga, one of Pizarro’s followers, and which has been occupied by 18 generations of his descendants. Casa Aliaga may not look like much from the outside, but the interiors are lovely, with vintage furnishings and tile work. Jeronimo’s descendants currently live in a modern extension, while much of the original main house is on display.