Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor)
There is no better way to start your visit to Lima than where it all began. The Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor is the birthplace of Peru's capital and still the city's main hub. Around the square, you'll find many of Lima's historic landmarks such as a 17th century Cathedral, the Government Palace (the official residence of Peru's president), the Archbishop's Palace, the Municipal Palace, the Palace of the Union, and the Casa del Oidor – it's a great place to admire many of the colonial architectural gems Lima boasts. Embellishing the center of the plaza is a beautiful 1650 bronze fountain, set on what once was the grounds of the city's gallows. At noon, walk to the Presidential Palace to watch the traditional changing of the guards and just a few minutes from there is the historic Gran Hotel Bolivar, where many Hollywood stars, singers, politicians and famous authors have stayed. The list includes: former American President Nixon, Ernest Hemingway and Mick Jagger, among others.