Welcome to Peru and Lima, the oldest capital city in South America. A place where the ancient and the modern stand side-by-side.

Lima is a place of magic and mystery where ancient temples -- nearly 2,000 years old -- find their place among the modern skyline.

Our guide to this city of nearly 10 million is historian Ricardo Laos.

Lima is a city of layers. Once home to an Incan empire, overturned by a brutal Spanish conquistador named Francisco Pizarro.

The Spaniards (they calculate) took in the 16th century 200 tons of gold, Laos said.

Pizarro was assasinated just a few years later by a rival Spaniard.

Peru's capital city by the sea has also been rocked by earthquakes and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

Every century at least two big earthquakes, said Laos.

The quake-damaged Ermita Church has stood silent sentry for nearly 40 years, a testament to the fury of mother nature.

And the purple-draped Lord of Miracles celebration unites Lima residents for one month each year as they pray to ward off future tremors.

This home of the ancient also boasts a spirited, youthful population making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the Western Hemisphere.

Buildings in Lima are painted bright colors to break up the grey that exists most of the year. And the flat roofs are because it hardly ever rains. In fact, the last time it rained in Lima was 1998.

The city is preserving its rich past while marching steadily in to the future.

The Bridge of Sighs has been a well-known meeting place for lover for more than century. This is a county that has take the celebration of love very seriously for a very long time.

The Larco Museum in Lima is home to priceless artifacts. Sculptures telling tales of ancient pre-Incan civilizations, textiles of a quality not seen in a thousand years.

And artwork -- mostly ceramics -- of a decidely adult nature.

Apparently the Incan people and those who preceded them going back at least 1800 years had a passion for the pruriant.

The collection includes raw depictions of human sexuality and some animal versions too.

Because no written Incan language has yet been discovered, we're left to guess exactly why these salacious ceramics were created in the first place.

The amorous art often found in tombs could have been an offering to the god of fertility or it could have been just for fun.

Ancient erotic art is in short supply because when the Christian missionaries came to Peru they took everything they deemed morally offensive and destroyed it.

Read or Share this story: