Interesting facts about Lima

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Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru.

It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

As of July 2019, the population of Lima is about 9 million people.

Lima covers a total area of 2,672 square kilometers (1,032 square miles).

The city slopes gently from the shores of the Pacific Ocean into valleys and mountain slopes located as high as 1,550 meters (5,090 feet) above sea level.

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The history of Lima, the capital of Peru, began with its foundation by Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535.

The city was founded under the name City of the Kings (Spanish: Ciudad de los Reyes).

It became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and site of a Real Audiencia in 1543.

Lima is home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the New World. The National University of San Marcos [photo below], founded on 12 May 1551, during the Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas.

national university of san marcos

In the 17th century, the city prospered as the center of an extensive trade network despite damage from earthquakes and the threat of pirates.

The population of Lima played an ambivalent role in the 1821–1824 Peruvian War of Independence; the city suffered exactions from Royalist and Patriot armies alike.

After independence, Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru.

lima history

It enjoyed a short period of prosperity in the mid-19th century until the 1879–1883 War of the Pacific when it was occupied and looted by Chilean troops.

After the war, the city went through a period of demographic expansion and urban renewal. Population growth accelerated in the 1940s spurred by immigration from the Andean regions of Peru.

Nowadays the city is considered as the political, cultural, financial and commercial center of the country. Internationally, it is one of the thirty most populated urban agglomerations in the world.

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Lima’s contemporary townscapes provide such contrasts that it is easy to forget that the rich and the poor belong to the same society.

The Historic Centre, made up of the districts of Lima and Rímac, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Some examples of colonial architecture include the Monastery of San Francisco, the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral, Convent of Santo Domingo and the Palace of Torre Tagle.

The Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas of Lima, is the birthplace of the city of Lima, as well as the core of the city. Located in the Historic Centre of Lima, it is surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union.

plaza mayor

San Francisco church and its monastery are most famous for their catacombs containing the bones of about 10,000 people interred here when this was Lima’s first cemetery. Below the church is a maze of narrow hallways, each lined on both sides with bones. In one area, a large round hole is filled with bones and skulls arranged in a geometrical pattern, like a piece of art. If Mass is in progress upstairs, the sound reverberates eerily through the catacombs.

San Francisco Church and Monastery

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima, otherwise Lima Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor. Construction began in 1535, and the building has undergone many reconstructions and transformations since. It retains its colonial structure and facade. It is dedicated to St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

lima cathedral

Huaca Pucllana or Huaca Juliana (possibly from Quechua wak’a a local shrine to a protector deity, a sacred place, sacred, pukllana game) is a great adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima, Peru, built from seven staggered platforms. It served as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Lima Culture, a society which developed in the Peruvian Central Coast between the years of 200 AD and 700 AD.

huaca pucllana

In the 1960s, Miguel Mujica Gallo used his private collection, gathered throughout his life, to open the Gold Museum of Peru and Weapons of the World, located in the district of Santiago de Surco. It is in a two-story building made of reinforced concrete and accessed through a vault-style entrance.

larco museum

According to early Spanish articles the Lima area was once called Itchyma, after its original inhabitants. However, even before the Inca occupation of the area in the 15th century, a famous oracle in the Rímac valley had come to be known by visitors as Limaq (which means “talker” or “speaker” in the coastal Quechua that was the area’s primary language before the Spanish arrival). This oracle was eventually destroyed by the Spanish and replaced with a church, but the name persisted: the chronicles show “Límac” replacing “Ychma” as the common name for the area.

Modern scholars speculate that the word “Lima” originated as the Spanish pronunciation of the native name Limaq. Linguistic evidence seems to support this theory as spoken Spanish consistently rejects stop consonants in word-final position. Non-Peruvian Spanish speakers may mistakenly define the city name as the direct Spanish translation of “lime“, the citrus fruit.

The city is known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas, mixing Spanish, Andean and Asian culinary traditions.

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