HISTORY

With fog bundling its colonial facades and high rises, it takes a little imagination to get beyond the grit of Lima’s first impression. After Cairo, this sprawling metropolis is the second-driest world capital, rising above a long coastline of crumbling cliffs. To enjoy it, climb on the wave of chaos that spans from high-rise condos built alongside pre-Columbian temples, and fast Pacific breakers rolling toward noisy traffic snarls. Think one part southern Cali doused with a heavy dose of America Latina.

But Lima is also a sophisticate, with civilization that dates back millennia. Stately museums display sublime pottery; galleries debut edgy art; solemn religious processions date back to the 18th century and crowded nightclubs pulse with tropical beats. No visitor can miss the capital’s culinary genius, part of a gastronomic revolution more than 400 years in the making.

This is Lima. Shrouded in history, gloriously messy and full of aesthetic delights. Don’t even think of missing it.

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population of almost 10 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru, and the third largest city in the Americas (as defined by "city proper"), just behind São Paulo and Mexico City.