Welcome back to Expat Peru’s circuit of the Lima districts! This month we’re paying a visit to Santiago de Surco, which most people know as simply Surco. Surco is a very popular residential district with a population that runs the gamut of all the socio-economic levels. The urbanizations of Monterrico and Chacarilla have more upper class housing as well as several major shopping centers, making the area a favorite choice for expats.
Surco has been inhabited since before the time of the Incas. In its early recorded history, the boundaries of the district included all the land as far west as the areas of present day Barranco and Chorillos on the coast; these areas were a favorite vacation spot for the wealthy during the time of the Spanish Viceroyalties. The present day district was declared a separate district in 1929. Its current population is over 250,000 spread over an area of 34.75km2 – about 13.4 sq miles.
The district of Surco has several nice parks – in fact, it has won several awards for the quality of its green areas. One of the best known parks in the district is the Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park), so named for the large Moorish arch in the park which was a gift from the Spanish to celebrate Peru’s 100th year of independence. The park has pedal boats, a train ride and lots of good food. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Surco is also well known for its wine culture, and each year in March it celebrates the “Vendimia” – a celebration of local crafts, cuisine and wine making. Demonstrations of traditional wine stomping are given, as well as the processes of fermentation and aging. A Harvest Queen is chosen and there are shows performed by local performers and dance groups.
Jockey Plaza, located on Av. Javier Prado Este, is one of the top commercial centers in the area and a favorite among shoppers. Shoppers looking to save money often head to the “Polvos” – smaller commercial centers that sell discounted products – located on Av. Aviacion near the Ovalo Higuereta.
For those interested in higher education, Surco holds some of Lima’s top universities, including the University of Lima, Universidad Ricardo Palma and Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (Applied Sciences).
Besides being a pleasant place to live and shop, Surco is also home to the US Embassy building in Lima. Located on Av. La Encalada, this impressive fortress type building is where expats from the US head when they need passports or to perform a number of other administrative tasks.