The Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit) is a series of illuminated water fountains in Lima, Peru. The concept doesn't sound terrifically exciting, at first glance. After all, illuminated water fountains are for kids and romantic couples, right? Most people, however, don't realize the scale of the thing. It's a public water fountain that Guinness World Records has already recognized as the largest in the world.
Seeing Is Believing
Having now visited the Circuito Mágico del Agua twice, it's easy to see why it's a perfect place to visit in Lima with kids and a frequent recommendation for even the most cynical of adult travelers. The entrance fee is very inexpensive, so it's no threat to your travel budget. The Circuit is open from 3:00 pm to 10:30 pm Wednesday to Sunday and the fountains are most impressive at night.
Parque de la Reserva and El Circuito Mágico del Agua
The Circuito Mágico del Agua is located within the Parque de la Reserva, a 19-acre (eight hectare) park inaugurated in 1929. Sandwiched between Avenida Arequipa and Paseo de la Republica, the park was transformed in 2007 with the completion of the Magic Water Circuit, a series of 13 illuminated fountains.
The Controversy the Circuito Mágico Courted
The Circuito Mágico project courted some controversy. Converting the historic Parque de la Reserva into a modern water fountain complex wasn’t universally popular, nor was the charging of an entrance fee to enter a public space. The construction cost -- a hefty US$13 million -- also raised a few eyebrows.
Entrance Fees Helped Fund Renovation
On a more positive note, entrance fee revenues from the fountain complex helped raised funds for the renovation of the historic Municipal Theatre of Lima, which was reopened in October 2010. As for the public’s reaction to the Circuito Mágico, it was soon evident that the park was a success; less than eight months after its inauguration, the Circuit had already received two million visitors.
The 13 Fountains of the Magic Water Circuit
Lima’s Circuito Mágico del Agua features 13 fountains, all of which are illuminated. Some of the fountains have interactive elements, so prepare to get wet. If you enter from the Avenida Arequipa side of the park, you’ll arrive at each fountain in roughly the following order:
The 13 Fountains
- Fuente del Arco Iris (Rainbow Fountain): A series of parallel fountains of different heights, giving the impression of a rainbow
- Fuente de la Armonía (Fountain of Harmony): A pyramid whose sides are formed by jets of water, giving the impression of a solid structure
- Fuente Tangüis (Tangüis Fountain): A magical garden with fountains in the shape of flowers, named after Fermín Tangüis (1851 to 1930), a Puerto Rican agriculturist who developed a seed that saved Peru’s cotton industry
- Cúpula Visitable (Walk-in Dome): Jets of water shoot upwards and inwards to form a dome, beneath which you can walk without getting wet -- unless someone places a hand or foot in the flow, spraying water everywhere
- Fuente de la Ilusión: (Fountain of the Illusion): An elegant fountain with streams of water that could be going one way or another, and multicolored clouds of spray; located next to the statue of Antonio José de Sucre
- Túnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises): A series of water arcs that creates a 38 yard (35 m) long tunnel of water through which you can walk
- Laberinto del Ensueño (Maze of the Dream): Don’t let the dreamy name fool you: this is where all the action takes place. Can you make your way to the center of the circle, through the vertical walls of water that suddenly subside before shooting upwards? There’s a good chance you’ll get wet, so put your camera and cash in a plastic bag. Great fun!
- Fuente de la Vida (Fountain of Life): A spiraling central structure from which various fountains emerge
- Fuente de Los Niños (Fountain of the Children): Various fountains emerge randomly from an illuminated grid
- Fuente de las Tradiciones (Fountain of Traditions): A previously existing fountain, modernized but incorporating traditional sculptures
- Río de los Deseos (River of Wishes): A lengthy waterway with fountains along its course
- Fuente Mágica (Magic Fountain): The park’s largest and most powerful fountain, shooting a vertical jet of water more than 87 yards (80 m) into the air
- Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasia Fountain): The 130-yard-long Fuente de la Fantasía is the park’s showpiece fountain. Three times a night, the fountain is used for a choreographed laser, water and music show
More Attractions in and Around Parque de la Reserva
The water fountains are obviously the main draw in Parque de la Reserva, but the Circuito Mágico del Agua also serves as an educational tool.
Lima's Water System
The Túnel de Exposición, which runs beneath Avenida Petit Thouars and connects the two halves of the park, contains a wealth of information about Lima’s water system. Here you can learn, among other things, where Lima’s water comes from, the trials faced in developing and maintaining the system, and its economic and environmental impact.
Additional Attractions Above Ground
You’ll also find exhibitions above ground, often displayed near the Fuente de la Ilusión and the statue of Antonio José de Sucre. During May 2012, for example, visitors could walk around a fascinating photographic display featuring old black and white photos of Machu Picchu (including those of the Hiram Bingham exhibition).
Nearby attractions include the Museo de Historia Natural (Natural History Museum) on Avenida Arenales and the large Parque de la Exposición about five blocks north of Parque de la Reserva. Peru’s national soccer stadium, the Estadio Nacional del Perú, is also a short walk north of the park (you can see it from within the Circuito Mágico del Agua).
Getting to Parque de la Reserva and Additional Details
The simplest way to get to Parque de la Reserva and the Circuito Mágico del Agua is to jump in a taxi. From Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, the cab fare should be around pretty cheap -- not too bad, especially if you go with a few traveling companions.
Alternatively, you can hop into one of Lima’s often-cramped minibusses and make your way along Avenida Arequipa until you reach the park. Another simple option is Lima’s Metropolitano bus system; get off at the Estadio Nacional Station and you’ll be right next to the Parque de la Reserva. The main entrance is just off Avenida Arequipa.