A closer look at Lima: Pueblo Libre
Pueblo Libre is a quiet residential area just a short taxi ride from Miraflores or Downtown, just north of Magdalena del Mar. Today its citizens are beginning to promote their tourist appeal, with signs like “No tocando el claxon tendremos mas Turismo … Al Turista Pueblo Libre conquista!” (“By not honking our horns we’ll attract more Tourism … Pueblo Libre will conquer the Tourist!”). More power to them: their little neighborhood kicks ass, and has done so for centuries.
Pueblo Libre was founded in the 16th century, but was renamed “Free Town” in 1821 by Jose de San Martín, the same year that Peru was declared independent from Spain. Simón Bolívar and San Martín both lived in Pueblo Libre, and Bolívar’s mansion today houses the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru
The NMAAHP (en-mop) is probably the best place to go if you’re interested in Peru’s history, and if you can only see one museum in Peru, this has my vote for its sheer comprehension. The museum has a concise and well-organized display of ancient Peruvian artifacts, and is laid out to take the visitor on a tour from ancient history through Conquest, Independence, and on to modern day. You can also visit a Bolívar’s home and see a collection of his weapons, desk, uniform, etc.
Entrance is S/.11.50 ($4) for adults, and a guide is available (highly recommended) for S/.15 ($5.75) in English and Spanish.
The Museo Rafael Larco Herrera is also located in the area. Their several permanent exhibitions include a chronological display of pre-Columbian artifacts, a Gold and Silver Gallery said to house the largest collection of jewelry of pre-Columbian Peru, and a popular gallery of Ancient Peruvian erotic pottery. It’s housed in a 17th-century vice-royal mansion. They’ve got a great photo gallery on their website, as well as having all 44101 pieces in their collection cataloged online.
When you get tired of museums, Pueblo Libre has some great little cafes, including the historic Antigua Taberna Queirolo, owned by the same people that produce those fine wines and piscos. Particularly if you’re interested in seeing old photos check out this place, as the walls are full of old black and white prints. (106 Av San Martin).
The Traveler’s Cross (Cruz del Viajero) is another famous bit of history. Made in Spain and placed by Franciscan monks in 1672, the cross was an important stop for travelers heading out on a long journey.