Visited: June 23, 2013
Site Type: Cultural
Background and Opinion:
The capital of Peru was also once the capital of the Spanish dominion of South America. It was added to the World Heritage list for its extensive preservation of the town center with beautiful yellow buildings dating back hundreds of years. While much of it was destroyed by earthquakes, including the cathedral which partially collapsed in 1940, much of it looks much like it did from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, we chose a lousy time to go sight seeing as I had my first encounter with tear gas. While we were safe for the most part, there were large students protests which led to riot police and us being caught in the middle of it all.
Marking a striking resemblance to Mexico City, Lima’s center can be considered the ‘Plaza de Armas’ and expands in a circle all around. The city center is buzzing with activity and a must if you are ever in the Peruvian capital. At night, the dim street lights make for a spectacular view of the night sky.
Completeness and Originality (8/15): The site is very well taken care of and is nice to just walk around.
Extensiveness of the Site (3.5/15): In all honesty, besides walking around there isn’t much to do. The churches are nice and the buildings pretty, but everything can be done in about 1.5 hours.
Cultural Significance (7.5/25): As the capital of South America, it served as the administrative center of Spanish dominions. It is a shame however that the UNESCO bid does not include the ancient ruins of Huaca Pucllana in south Lima as those are dated to about a thousand years before the Spanish even arrived.
Personal Impact (3.5/15): Lima was not bad, but if it wasn’t the capital and the starting and ending point of our trip, I would not spend more than a day or two in it. It is not so much that it isn’t nice as there is so much more to do in the rest of Peru. Compared to Machu Picchu or Nazca, there just is no comparison.
Logistics (6.5/10): Navigation was cheap and easy since I speak Spanish. I imagine the buses are a bit harder for most foreigners, but still cheap enough to allow for getting lost once or twice.
Uniqueness (2/20): I liked the yellow buildings very much, but it feels a lot like the many Spanish cities scattered all around the region and in Mexico. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there was nothing particularly unique about Lima’s center at all that would make me want to visit again.
Combined Score: 31/100
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While this has nothing to do with the UNESCO Entry, while in Lima there are other must see places:
1) Huaca Pucllana – 2,000 year old pre-Incan ruins
2) Larco Museum – Quite possible the best museum I have ever visited. Very informative, well organized, and you can even see their archives which are open to the public.