Visit Trujillo & Huanchaco

If Lima isn’t your next destination after Huaraz, Trujillo and Huanchaco probably will be and for good reason. The perfect mix of large city, small beach town and archaeological site makes for the perfect stopover.

Trujillo – With a population of around 900,000 people Trujillo ranks as Peru’s second most populous city. It’s home to the Chimu city of Chan Chan and the colonial streets of old Trujillo. The Plaza de Armas has the huge freedom monument which was erected in 1929 to celebrate Trujillo’s independence in 1820 and in my opinion the nicest Cathedral in Peru, although opening times are erratic.

Museums– A couple of blocks from the Plaza de Armas you will find the interesting Museo del Juguete (Toy Museum) with a vast array of toys dated from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museo Huacas de Moche (Museum of Moche Temples) is located at the Temple of the Moon and shows the recent archaeological discoveries of the Moche ceremonial center. Created by the painter Gerardo Chavez the Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) displays work of established foreign and national artists and is located on Semirustica El Bosque.

Ripley Mall – Between the old colonial streets of Trujillo, the ancient archaeological site of Chan Chan and the laid back beaches of Huanchaco, Trujillo enters the new world with this gigantic mall possessing just about everything you may desire. A huge supermarket with a wine section almost as big as the ‘supermarkets’ in Huaraz (which is best avoided at weekends unless you like waiting in a queue for an hour), shoe stores, clothes, electrical equipment… the list goes on and on until you finally give into temptation and visit one of the many junk food options in the large food court.

Huanchaco – Just 12km from Trujillo, (S/. 13 by taxi or S/. 1.50 by comi) for me a must visit destination on the Peruvian ‘gringo trail’. Huanchaco is simply beautiful. Sit back and relax with a cold beer in one of the many restaurants overlooking the seafront as you indulge yourself with some excellent seafood. The ceviche being an extra special speciality here.

Chan Chan – Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 Chan Chan is an ancient archaeological city constructed by the kingdom of the Chimú sometime in the late first century AD or early second century AD which survived until the conquest of the Incas in 1470 AD. Chan Chan covers an area of 20km² which makes it the largest adobe city in the world. Unfortunately El Niño brought storms and floods that have severely damaged the mud walls of the city. Looters and earthquakes have also had their adverse affects on the ancient city but it’s still makes for an interesting visit.

 

Otuzco – Just two hours from Trujillo with an elevation of 2630m this makes for a spectacular day trip. Other than the cobblestone streets the town itself isn’t that special but what makes this journey worth while are the views as you ascend from sea level up to the middle of the Andeans in such a short time.

Puerto Chicama – This place doesn’t have the facilities of Huanchaco, nor the same vibe but what it lacks in character it makes up for in giant waves. Die-hard surfers grab your broads because the waves here can reach an impressive 2m in height and travel for an astonishing 2km when conditions are right. Usually between April and June but don’t blame us if you go there this month to find tranquil swimming pool like conditions. Bring a wetsuit, the water will be cold!

Sun and Moon Temples – This major archaeological site was built at the time of the Moche culture (100 BC-650 AD), just east of a prominent freestanding hill, the Cerro Blanco (White Mountain), and next to a small tributary of the Moche River. It occupies a central location within the extensive Moche Valley. The complex sits about three miles inland southeast of the modern city of Trujillo and is considered by many scholars to be the former capital of the Moche State. The complex is dominated by two huge adobe brick buildings: the Pyramid of the Sun, or Huaca del Sol, and the artificial platform called Huaca de la Luna, or Temple of the Moon. On the quarter-mile-wide, open plain between them, researchers have found many graves but most of them are looted. They have also found evidence of large scale manufacturing covered by a layer of sediment up to 10 feet thick. A considerable number of administrators, religious, and manufacturing specialists must have been living at this great pre-hispanic settlement. Like most prehispanic sites on the coast, it is located so as not to usurp agricultural land and in a good position to acquire food, building material and other resources.

The Huaca del Sol – Despite its history of destruction during the colonial period, the stepped pyramid called Huaca del Sol still measures 1,250 feet in length and towers 135 feet above the surrounding plain. This makes it the tallest adobe structure of the Americas. lt is calculated that around 50 million sun-dried, mud bricks (or “adobes”), were used in its construction. Like its counterpart on the opposite side of the plain, the Huaca de la Luna, is oriented roughly 20 degrees northeast. Although the earlier history of the building remains a riddle, it was probably begun early during the Moche period.

The enormous cut on the west face was made back in 1602 by ambitious Spaniards looking for treasure. They intentionally diverted the small Santa Catalina River, which washed away more than half the huaca. In colonial times, it was common practice to loot prehispanic sites in search of gold, and often such looting was organized by formal companies. This stepped pyramid is made up of four major platforms that rise from the northeast, where an access ramp may have stood. Towards the southwest there is a fourth, lower and narrower platform. Unlike later monumental architecture, it is entirely made up of sun-dried adobe bricks. The sections, or panels, in which the bricks were laid are clearly visible in the badly-eroded eastern side. Many of the adobes have their original marks, such as imprints of hands, feet, dots, crosses, etc. These marks have been interpreted by researchers as accounting tools to distinguish different groups of brick manufacturers, which thus facilitated tracking the payment of “taxes”.

The name “Huaca del Sol” is really a misnomer, as there is no evidence to connect the building with any solar cult. There are, however, no indications as to the original name of the site, which must have been in the now-extinct Muchik language, which was spoken in the region in the Fifteenth Century.

The Huaca de la Luna – Overlooking the Pyramid of the Sun lies the Pyramid or Temple of the Moon, another major component of the urban and ceremonial center of the prehispanic settlement of Moche. Ongoing excavations by Peruvian and foreign scholars are revealing the complexity of this fascinating structure.

Three platforms and four open courts or plazas take up most of the assemblage, which is built up against the lower slopes of the Cerro Blanco, the White Mountain. Overall, the site measures 950 feet from north to south and 690 feet from east to west. Treasure hunters also dug impressive tunnels into its eastern flank and inadvertently exposed beautiful polychrome reliefs, sadly now destroyed. Many Moche burials, some probably dedicatory but others as late as Chimú (about 1100-1470 AD), have been excavated inside the otherwise massive adobe platform and have yielded many artifacts, such as elaborate ceramics and metal headgear. Very tall and wide walls delimit each of the four courts, some of which have narrow cane and pole roofs running along the sides. Access from one sector of the site to another was clearly channeled down corridors and through narrow entrances. Painted reliefs pertaining to different construction phases, at least four of which have been identified so far, have been located in several of the platforms and plazas. For example, the head of the “degollador” or sacrificer, a motif also found at the site of EL BRUJO, decorates the walls of platform I in the southwest corner of the site. Another very fine example of Moche mural decorations found at La Luna was the mural referred to above, which depicts “The Rebellion of the Artifacts”

Large-scale human sacrifice at Huaca de la Luna became evident when archaeologists uncovered the remains of at least 34 sacrificed adult male individuals in the soft clay of the southeastern court at the foot of the mountain. They had been bound and judging by the type of wounds that had been inflicted were probably captured in battle. The sacrifice represents a single ritual event linked by archaeologist Steve Bourget to a season of torrential rains caused by an extreme case of the maritime El Niño phenomenon, which strikes the coast of South America at irregular intervals and which may have caused the final abandonment of this site.

The open space between the two pyramids has recently been found to have been an area of intense manufacturing activity as well as an area of high population density. Ceramic workshops and large-scale maize-beer production are evidence. Intensive textile production and metalworking may also have taken place there as well. The highly specialized groups of workers in charge of these activities were probably subservient to the high-ranking individuals in charge of the administration of both the ceremonies that took place at that site and the prosecution of wars.

Text of Sun and Moon Temples by Inkanatura Travel.

http://www.inkanatura.com or call +5112035000 (Lima).

 

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