Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This is the cathedral (towers circa 1920's) in the Centro de Lima

I'm just about to the end of my visit to Peru, which wasn't on the original itinerary, but turned out to be a great adventure in the best possible way.  My first best decision was to take a tour of the city to get a feel for the layout, and that lead to a bunch of other tours to see archeological sites and museums and churches and  - ugh - catacombs as well.

Lima was founded by Francisco Pizzaro in January 1538.   Pizzaro was a conquistador in the worst sense of the word. Illegitimate and illiterate, his only chance for success was to be a ruthless  soldier of fortune.  He tried  3 times to conquer the Inca and finally made it on the last. He captured the Inca king, demanded a room be filled with gold as a ransom, then went ahead and killed him anyhow, but only after having his Franciscan companions baptize him.  

Being a successful conquistador required a place to store and ship plunder and the port of Callao and the city of Lima fit the bill perfectly.  The only downside to this location is that for much of the year Lima is covered in fog and pretty gloomy.  But there was a river (for water, because this section of Peru is a desert, and it rarely rains here), called the Rimac by the locals.  Its name was translated into "Lima" in the way people will do when it's hard to understand the another's language.

To jump back a few thousand years, you need to know that Peru has always been a hot spot for civilizations.  3000 years before Christ (about the same time as the Egyptians), the indios were building pyramids, making sophisticated ceramics and weaving cloth that was extraordinarily fine cloth, with a thread count that matches today's $1000 bed sheets.  Did I mention that cotton is native to South America?  As are potatoes, corn and tomatoes, along with various types of squashes that are commonly eaten today.  The Incas were the last in a long line of groups who rose and declined, combined, split and were at war for a good deal of the time.  The surprising fact is that the Inca Empire as we recognize it was only around for 50 years or so.

The picture below shows a piece of the Inca Road which tied the empire together.  The facts, archaeologically speaking show that the road was built much, much earlier by other groups groups.  The earliest culture started by building their own structures here in Pachacamac, and eventually there were 17 pyramids built here, at about the same time the pharaohs were constructing theirs. Over the next millennial more structures were added, until eventually the Incas built their Sun Temple on the crest of the nearby hill.  

Inca Road

The Sun Temple

Sun Temple again

The entire temple was originally covered with red plaster.

One of the ramps leading up to the temple

The reconstructed quarters of the Inca virgin priestesses, the pachamama

This pyramid is in downtown Miraflores and is being restored

Notice that the bricks are stacked like books and not right up against each other.

This provided stability during earthquakes, allowing the pyramids to flex.
It was fascinating to learn that the Indian culture was at one point on an equal footing with the European.  

There's more to come!


1 comment:

  1. Looks like you are seeing a lot of neat Inca sights! Bueno Fotos!