Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lambayeque…a big little town

If I were to decide to move to another city in northern Peru, Lambayeque would probably be my choice. It’s got a lot going for it in a quiet sort of way. By quiet I mean it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Chiclayo. You won’t find the taxis so prevalent on Chiclayo’s streets, and with a population of about 50,000 there is not the constant crush of humanity at every turn. There are a ton of motos for transportation, but somehow they seem less intrusive.

Lambayeque boasts at least three major parks, all beautifully landscaped and well maintained. The principal park with its surrounding well preserved colonial architecture reminds me of Lima’s Plaza de Armas, though of course on a much smaller scale. The town also has the only national university in the entire Lambayeque Region.

Lambayeque has made and is making an attempt to preserve some but not all of its colonial buildings, probably because the first calls for independence from Spain were voiced here. Two of the more noteworthy are Casa Descalzi (now a tourist restaurant) and Casa de la Logia known locally as Casa Montjoy, with its 400 year old 220 foot balcony. Casa Cùneo shown here dates back to the 1820s and according to printed information on the door supposedly played some part in the design of Peru’s flag. Many visitors voice the sentiment ‘if you’ve seen one colonial home you’ve seen them all’ but for me it’s not possible to look at what remains of this home and not get lost in thought wondering about the home and its inhabitants nearly 200 years ago.

The facade of this ancient church dates back to the mid 1500s according to local residents. It is probably the most photographed object in town. I always think of the Alamo when I see it. The church two doors to the right of the ‘Alamo’ is either being renovated or demolished. I wasn’t allowed access inside but in peeking over the thatch sheets was able to see many beautifully carved massive wooden columns inside the building.

Lambayeque has two major museums to house and display the artifacts found at the many archeological sites in the area. The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipân (Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipân) is the newest and is considered one of the finest in all Peru. My personal favorite is the Bruning Archeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico Nacional Bruning) located near the center of town.

There are several fine restaurants in town, including El Rincon del Pato, El Pacifico and Algarrobos. El Pacifico is a favorite of many Chiclayanos, and particularly on Sunday afternoon lines of cars can be seen dropping off customers for lunch. What puzzles me is that the restaurant is only open until 5:00pm. I suppose they have their reasons for that.

If there is any night life in Lambayeque I am not aware of it. I suspect there must be something available because the town is the home of Peru’s 7th Infantry Brigade, headquartered in this impressive colonial structure. I don’t know how many men are in a brigade, but unless things have changed since I was in the army these guys aren’t just sitting in the barracks at night writing letters home.

If you’re in the area set aside a half-day or more to visit Lambayeque. The town is clean, safe and most attractions are centrally located or easy to get to. I think you’ll like it.


No comments:

Post a Comment