Lima, the capital of Peru, is a massive sprawling city. No matter where you stay in the city, you will need a taxi in order to visit the other areas. Some of the neighborhoods, such as Miraflores, are quite nice, but driving through the city, there are a number of other less attractive (and less safe) areas in the city.
The Museo Larco and its surrounding garden are like an oasis in Lima. High white walls surround the compound, blocking out the rest of the noise and dirt of Lima. The site consists of the museum, shops, and an excellent restaurant where we ate lunch. I highly recommend that you plan to eat lunch here as part of your visit. The museum is rated the #1 attraction on TripAdvisor and I can see why. The restaurant is also well-reviewed.
If you are starting your Peruvian trip in Lima, as many do, it is a great idea to visit the museum before heading to the Sacred Valley. The history you learn here will provide context for what you see later in Machu Picchu and the other ruins.
We took a taxi to the museum from the Plaza de Armas area which costs 16 soles. The taxi from the museum to our hotel in Miraflores was 18 soles. The women in the gift shop will use an app called EasyTaxi to hail a cab for you when you are ready to leave.
Entrance Ticket: 30 soles (1 Adult)
At the entrance of the museum itself, there is free purified water with orange, which is very refreshing (there is more available outside of the restaurant). The man taking tickets also keeps track of which country the guests are from.
Just inside to the right there is a screening area where you can watch a movie about the Incan empire and the peoples of Peru. It is a good idea to watch this video first, since it gives a good overview of the culture and the artifacts you will view in the museum. Many of the plaques around the museum say the same thing as the film, so it can save you some reading time. It runs on a continuous loop, so you may have to start watching it in the middle or just wait until it begins again.
The Inca are the most famous group because they were ruling when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. However, there were many indigenous peoples in Peru prior to the Inca. At the entrance you will see this time line of eras and you can also view artifacts from these previous groups as well.
The exhibition features a variety of pottery of the different peoples of Peru, although the erotic pottery is housed in a separate area next to the restaurant. This is no doubt to avoid offending people who do not wish to see it (but I’ll post pictures of it in a different section below).
Both the film and the signage in the museum explain the process of how they selected those who were to be sacrificed to the gods. Two men would have to battle with the goal of removing the headdress of the other. The person who lost would then be sacrificed and they did this in a number of ways. One such battle is depicted on the pot in the picture below.
In the Incan Empire, leaders were perceived to be the children of the sun. As such, they wore much gold and silver in order to reflect light. The people did not understand these effects and took it to mean that their leaders were therefore who they claimed to be. Throughout the museum there are examples of what they wore, which must have been quite heavy. There are a number of elaborate gold headdresses, nose rings, and ear gauges.
As mentioned above, there was quite a lot of erotic pottery at the museum and these artifacts were housed in two rooms adjacent to the restaurant. To these ancient peoples, water, blood, and other liquids were deemed sacred and thus the vessels which carried them were very important. The pottery features phallic symbols and a variety of sexual acts, some labeled as the kind which does not result in a child. There are even some featuring the underworld. You can purchase replicas in the gift shop.
I always find it interesting what little taboo there was surrounding the human body and sex in ancient cultures. You can view some of the pottery in the slideshow below.
We hadn’t planned in advance to eat at the museum, but were hungry when we arrived. It looked so lovely, so we decided to give it a chance and we didn’t regret it.
This was our first day in Peru, so when the waiter brought us the complimentary corn below we hadn’t tried it yet. Later, I discovered that they sell it in snack bags in stores called Inka Corn. We loved it!
I ate the “Inca Salad” with beef, avocado, asparagus, tomato, and onion for 29 soles. I think some people on TripAdvisor felt that the restaurant was overpriced, but it’s a nice place with good ambience and decent service. I don’t think $9 is too much to pay for a delicious salad with beef on it.
My mother had what is a typical Peruvian causa, which is potato layered with something else, in this case shrimp and avocado. She enjoyed her meal as well (I believe it cost the same as mine).
Also, a glass of house wine costs 16 soles. Overall, we enjoyed our experience both at the restaurant and the museum. It is definitely a must-visit place if you go to Lima. I leave you with the view of the museum from the restaurant.