The birthplace of some of the most significant pre-Inca cultures in South America and certainly the cultural capital of Peru, not to mention a stunning colonial maze and basepoint from which to visit some of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, Trujillo seems more than ready to take to the centre stage, lights blaring.
Sprawled across the shores of the Moche River and only a swim stroke away from the world-famous surfing beaches of northern Peru, Trujillo is less than 600km directly north of Lima, or just an hour’s plane-ride away. It is primarily famous among international surfing crowds who head here for exceptional waves, uncrowded beaches and excellent seafood, a better combination no discerning surfer could ever find.
Trujillo also boasts an illustrious history as the ancient capital of some impressive pre-Inca civilizations and just a few kilometres from the city you can visit two absolutely astounding archaeological sites. Some of Latin America’s most important, in fact. As a result of its long-standing history, Trujillo is also known as the ‘Cultural Capital of Peru’ offering a wealth of unique experiences you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Amazing archaeological sites, The town was once the capital of both the Moche and Chimu civilizations, two formidable empires that ruled over a sprawling area of northern Peru consecutively, with the Chimu eventually succumbing to an ever-growing Inca Empire just before the first Spanish conquistadores landed on the continent. The two civilizations left incredible legacies, each one showcasing their respective culture’s unbelievable advancements. Whilst the Moche built their revered jewels (Moche Pyramids) in the splendid Complex of the Moon and the Sun (Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol), the Chimu set up their capital in what is now the magnificent complex of UNESCO-listed Chan Chan – a 20 square kilometre city made entirely from mud, carved some 1200 years ago.
Chan Chan is the world’s largest adobe city and at the peak of its golden era, just 600 years ago, was the largest in the Americas. This astonishing maze of carefully-carved splendours comprises thousands of buildings in a maze-like plan, was once home to more than 60,000 and was the head of a strong empire that stretched for more than 1000km along the Peruvian coast. The Chimu overcame the drought conditions of this desert coast by building complex aqueducts and irrigation systems using methods not developed in the rest of the world until 300 years later. Recently, international headlines reported a sensational find near Trujillo. Nearby Chan Chan, archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the world’s largest human sacrifice site. A disturbing yet thoroughly fascinating find. Don’t forget to include a half-day excursion to the El Brujo Archaeological site, another Moche treasure that’s brimming with wonderfully-preserved murals and frescoes.
In the City of Eternal Spring, as Trujillo is known because of its sunny climate, you can also visit a place like nowhere else on earth: Chan Chan, the world’s largest clay city and an invaluable relic of this region’s ancient inhabitants. Trujillo’s archaeological riches are an important part of the Moche Route, with monumental ruins like Huaca de La Luna – capital of the Moche civilization for more than six centuries– and the El Brujo Archaeological Complex, where the Lady of Cao tells part of the millenary history of Peru.
The Trujillo experience is made complete by beautiful beach resorts like the quaint Huanchaco claimed by many to be the birthplace of Peruvian ceviche and local fare bursting with the flavors of the sea.