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Insider’s Travel Guide to Peru

Architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia.

Photo: Tim Darwish for the 7th Art/Courtesy of Libertador Hotels

Born in Lima, trained in new England, and based in Miami, architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia has travel in his DNA. But his heart remains in Peru, where Fort-Brescia’s firm Arquitectonica is working on a clutch of new hotels that reflect its Modernist aesthetic. Whitewashed and adobe-colored façades evoke Miami Vice at the coastal Hotel Paracas (doubles from $340). In the Sacred Valley, Tambo del Inka (doubles from $455) features local stone and clay tiles. And then there’s the undulating glass exterior of the Westin Lima, set to open next summer. Here, the 13 places where he finds inspiration.

Top Bites

“Virgilio Martínez Véliz, of year-old Central Restaurante (dinner for two $70), delivers a tasting menu that includes updated Peruvian classics such as braised baby goat leg with herbs from his rooftop garden. Far simpler is the ceviche at nearby Pescados Capitales (lunch for two $65), served with cancha serrana [toasted corn].”

Design Capital

“Two of my favorite Lima shops sell crafts that incorporate traditional techniques: Dédalo Arte y Artesanía, in the Barranco district, and Indigo Arte y Artesanía, in San Isidro. Dédalo is the place to buy flatware and jewelry, while Indigo is strong on alpaca wool clothing.”

Must-See Museums

“For some of the best pre-Columbian artifacts, head to Museo Larco in a renovated eighteenth-century mansion built atop the remains of a seventh-century pyramid. The Museo Enrico Poli (by appointment) spotlights ancient Peruvian gold and silver. For woven textiles from the country’s northern coast, visit Fundación Museo Amano.”

Colonial Grandeur

“More distinctive than the touristed Plaza Mayor is the Palacio de Torre Tagle, a former marquis’ mansion. Completed around 1735, its stone arches and airy inner courtyard reference Moorish Spain and are reminiscent of buildings in Andalusia.”

Ancient Wonders

“It’s a little-known fact that the Trujillo region, some three hundred miles north of Lima, and not Machu Picchu, is home to Peru’s most dramatic archaeological sites. Chan Chan was the largest precolonial city in South America—it’s shielded by citadels and filled with massive granaries, wall friezes, and palaces whose walls the Spanish reportedly found covered in silver. Meanwhile, the 1,546-acre complex at Caral, about two hundred miles to the south, dates back over four thousand years and is considered the oldest city in the Americas.”

Wildlife Spotting

“Paracas is known as Lima’s version of the Hamptons, but its real appeal is Islas Ballestas, a trio of islands that are close enough for day trips by boat from Hotel Paracas ($28). Eight miles away, San Gallán is another untouched isla, teeming with pelicans, penguins, and sea lions that encircle boats as they draw close to shore.”

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