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Lima enchantments

Complex and intricating Peru

Lima seems to stretch endlessly from the ocean into the hills. But a closer look proves that this huge city, home to almost a third of Peru's population, has its own attractions that are fascinating and colorful.

The Plaza de Armas, also called Plaza Mayor, is the historical center of Lima and the most logical starting point for sightseeing. Most of the buildings from the original city were lost in the earthquake of 1746.

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.

Lima's cathedral dominates the east side of the Plaza de Armas.

On cliffs above the ocean, Miraflores is a neighborhood of modern glass-and-steel commercial buildings mixed with some fine old colonial homes and lots of green space.

As the largest museum in Lima, the Museo de la Nacion is the best place to begin exploring Peru's ancient history and gain an understanding of Peruvian culture.

Not as large, 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 pyramid-shaped temple of Huaca Pucllana lies in the heart of Miraflores and is now incongruously surrounded by buildings.

Several blocks east of the Plaza de Armas, Lima's Church of the Nazarenas has a unique history. This area was once a poor neighborhood of freed black slaves, and in the middle of what was little more than a shanty town, an ex-slave painted a mural of the Crucifixion of Christ on a wall.

The Magic Water Tour was opened in the Park of the Reserve in 2007, and within a year counted two million visitors. It holds the record for the largest fountain complex in the world, with 13 separate fountains.

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