Peru: El País de los Reyes – The country of the Kings

My country is beautiful. Wait, no. That’s the understatement of the century. My country is MARVELOUS. But, truth be told, it’s also really underrated. When you hear someone say “Latin America ” you literally think of anything but Peru (trust me, I’ve been there SO MANY TIMES) but gladly for you, I’m here to change that. Yes, you can thank me later.

So first, let’s start with some facts. La República Del Perú (or as we locals call it: Perucito or Perusalen – this is obviously just slang) it’s a country in western South America, whose official languages are Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. It borders Ecuador, Colombia, Brasil, Chile, Bolivia, and the Pacific Ocean. We are a really REALLY biodiverse country, and we concentrate almost 70% of the world’s micro-climates in our three regions (Costa, Sierra, selva). We have roughly 21,462 species between plants and animals, with the national Flower being the Cantuta, and the National animal being El Gallito de Las Rocas.

Peru’s ever-growing population is an estimated 34,294 million people, making it the fourth most populous country in South America. And of course, being one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries, our demographics are absolutely no exception. If we break them up, we are gonna find that over 60% of us identify as Mestizo, a term traditionally used to identify Peruvians of European ancestry (during colony times). Indigenous people constitute 13% of the population, which are in itself divided into two major groups: Quechua and Aymara. A total of 5% of the people identify themselves as white, while 7% identify as black, or Afro-Peruvians if you may. We also have the biggest Asian diaspora in Latin America, with 10% (that’s like 3.4 million people) of Peruvians having Asian ancestry, mainly Chinese and Japanese. Our diaspora, however, is located mainly in the USA, Spain, and Argentina.

Enough about history, GAWD, my brain is already fried. We are here to talk about one of my favorite cities in the world, which just so happens to be my hometown, which also happens to be the country’s capital and home to 10 million people: Lima.

Welcome to Lima

There are forty-three districts that make Lima, well, Lima. To say that we are chaotic is very much an understatement, we are chaotic and messy and beautiful and full of cars and Palmeras and TREES AND FLOWERS and PARKS and… sorry lol, I got carried away. Anywho, I’m not gonna put you through the pain of reviewing all 43-three districts because duh, ain’t nobody got time for that. I, however, have narrowed it down to five: San Isidro, San Borja, Barranco, Miraflores, and Cercado, all of which in my humble opinion, concentrate on a very different aspect of Limeñan culture.

San Isidro got its name from San Isidro Labrador, a Spanish saint from very early on. This place is mostly the financial district, concentrating 21 banks and 58 different embassies and consulates. It also has a lot of upper-class clubs and recreational centers, the most iconic being Country Club Lima Hotel, Lima Golf Club, and Real Club De Lima. Oh, and there’s a lot of greenery, spotting some of the few public parks the city has to offer. My favorite, Bosque El Olivar, is a former olive farm full of different tree species, 227 to be exact, most of which are way beyond half a millennia-old. There, you can have picnics or just lay down and relax in what I think it’s a STUNNING view, or just feed the geese and fish on the three different lakes there are.

“Sentimiento Blanquirrojo”
Federico Masías Street.
@Rennshottss
“WaterParks”
Parque de la familia – Avenida Miguel Grau. 
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If you are a history nerd (don´t worry, I am too) then this Distrito is just for you! The San Isidro public library offers books on the history of the district and Peru, as well as lots of artistic works and a few ones for children, too. Another site you can find is Huaca Huallamarca, commonly known as pan de azúcar or sugar bread, which established the first settlements of the Pinazo culture (300 d.c), on the Peruvian central coast, and was discovered by Julio C. Tello (one of my favorite historians, ever).

San Borja is a middle-class district. It concentrates a few of what we called Ministerios, semi-autonomous sectors of the legislative government on diverse areas of interest. Here we can find the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of energy, and the Peruvian Public Bank, Banco De La Nación.
Probably the two most iconic landmarks the district has to offer are El Cuartel General Del Ejercito and Gran Teatro Nacional. The first one, commonly known as el pentagonito, is the headquarters of the army, basically. It also has a huge park on its borders, which is mostly used by us locals as a runway field. Teatro Nacional del Perú is the most important performing arts venue in the country. With a capacity of 1,500 people, it is home to the national symphonic company, the national ballet, and the Folklore ensemble.

“Everyday Life in San Borja”
Intersección between Javier Prado Este and Luis Bedoya Expressway.
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If someone would ask me, I would definitely say that Miraflores and Barranco are the cultural stand-outs of the city. One is the main tourist spot in the country, and the other one is just one big piece of art piled up as buildings.

“Views from Miraflores”
Intersección between Tarata and Alcanfores streets.
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Remember Bosque el Olivar, one of the few public parks that Lima had? Well, the other one is located just a few blocks away, in Miraflores obviously, and it’s locally known as Parque Kennedy although its official name is “central park” (lol). It’s full of cats, which you can adopt by the way, and local street food, dancing, and many other things, so you will definitely not be bored. The nightlife in Miraflores is, dare I say, the one that’s keeping Lima alive. There’s everything for everyone, and I mean everyone. The few lgbtq+ friendly spots are located here, and the district itself is very queer-friendly. There’s a lot to do here, so I’ll just name a few of my favorites: El Malecon, or the pier rather, is a MUST.

We are the only capital in Latin America with direct access to the sea, so it makes it even more special. While you’re there, make sure to visit El Parque del Amor, the pop-up shops around the ocean and if you have a heart for shopping as I do, make yourself a favor and go to Larcomar, the best mall in the history of malls, with A+ category department stores and a stunning and I mean STUNNING view of the Oceano Pacifico. But we are not here to give propaganda to capitalism, so let’s continue.

“Nightlife in the city”
Avenida Larco, Cuadra 7.
@Rennshottss

Barranco is colloquially known as the art district. And they are absolutely right. Most of the artistic movements that happen around Lima take place here. Almost in every corner, there is a bar, a performing arts center, or a theater. If you enjoy performing arts of any kind, this is the place for you! Independent art is very underrated in Peru, so I’m sure we will appreciate your time in watching us. As I said, art is very important for the Barranquinos. And that’s precisely why most of the contemporary art museums are located here.

Museums you have to see

MAC – Museo De Arte Contemporáneo De Lima, is the contemporary art museum and one of my faves. It’s always filled with showcases of up-and-coming Peruvian artists. It specializes in “controversial” art pieces, as a way to challenge Peruvian society and its morals. Other museums include The Electricity Museum, Pedro de Osma museum (where you can learn about Upper-Class society in colonial times), and El Museo Mario Testino.

Cercado De Lima is, amazingly, 200 years old. Its the one district Lima was founded on, and its Historic Centre (Centro Histórico De Lima) is a UNESCO world heritage site. You can find many things to do here, so if you go, make sure to spare the day. You can find the government house, Palacio De Gobierno here. and they offer tours too! There are the headquarters of the municipality of Lima and the main cathedral, La Basilica. Jirón De La Unión is a must too, as it’s a very traditional street full of vendors and restaurants with traditional food and marvelous buildings. It’s also a really old street, having been founded in colonial times, so there’s also a lot of history to be appreciated.

“Metropolitano”
Metro de Lima – Estacion Canaval Y Moreyra
@Rennshottss

If you love museums and historic sites, you can go to MALI – Museo De Arte De Lima and watch the amazing collections there, or you can also go to the Italian Art Museum, Museo De Arte Italiano, the only European art museum in the region. You can also go to the Club De La Union, a historic club that had a significant impact on Peruvian culture in the mid-XX century. If you wanna eat traditional food and drink the national cocktail, Pisco Sour, you can go to the Hotel Bolivar, which offers one of the best pisco sours I’ve ever tried. The Historic center is close to almost every district, as it was designed to be the “center of Lima”. so just grab an Uber, and enjoy.

Okay! so we are almost finished. Honestly, It was really hard to narrow Lima down to a few landmarks because there are just so many. But, there’s essentially one thing you should know about the city: For the longest time, it was called The City Of Kings and STILL is, to this day. So if you ever hear a Limeño say that we are the kings of the world, it’s because we really are.

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