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Published: September 4th 2019
After a day I Lima, I am confirmed on my opinion that it's a dirty, unattractive city where the population far exceeds the infrastructure. But there are pockets of faded glory and cultural interest to enjoy.
This morning but we had a tour around the highlights of the old town. We saw couple of lavish Baroque churches, including the lavish Basilica de la Señora de la Merced, one of Lima's first churches built in 1535. There were many elegant neo-colonial buildings from the 1920s and 30s, generally in decent condition but in need of a good clean.
We visited the Plaza des Armas, the city's Central square, which has a fountain that flows with free Pisco on 28 July, Peru's Independence Day. We also visited Plaza de San Martin, which celebrates the leader of Peruvian Independence and was built in 1921 on the centenary of Independence. The figure of Victory is depicted with a little llama on her head as a result of a misunderstanding by the sculptor, who was told to depict the allegorical figure of the mother of Peru with a crown of flames. The Spanish word 'llama' also means flame. Amusingly, I made exactly the same mistake recently when I saw a headline about the war against the flames (referring to the Brazilian bushfires) and wondered why there was a war against such sweet domesticated animals!
The most interesting part of the tour was a visit to the Museo del Banco Central Reserva, a former bank which now houses a collection of pre-Columbian ceramics, arranged by civilization, and a room containing some of the few pre-Columbian find objects that were not melted down and stolen by the Spanish. It was interesting to see the different strengths and styles of the different civilizations and there was an excellent timeline existing the historical and geographical placement of the various civilisations. The ceramic examples were much finer be than we had seen in the small museums in Cusco and Paracas and included many puts in the shadow of animals and human faces with great personality as well as some fine painted work.
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