Things to Do in Trujillo
There was once a time when a city in Peru was one of the largest known cities in the Americas. For nearly 600 years, the sprawling city was the seat of an Empire that extended for hundreds of miles, and its residents were masters of engineering techniques unknown to the rest of the world. No, we’re not talking about Machu Picchu, the ruin so often equated with Peru. Rather, this massive city was Chan Chan, a complex of adobe and sand.
Set on the outskirts of modern day Trujillo, Chan Chan was the seat of the Chimu Empire from 850-1470 AD. At its height, it’s believed to have housed up to 60,000 residents before being conquered by the infamous Inca. With its wide open courtyards, narrow alleyways, and walls which reach heights of over 30 feet, the city of Chan Chan once covered an area of nearly 8 square miles of desert. Today, the Tschudi Palace area is open to visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Chimu.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating bits about Peru’s ancient Moche culture is that even though they ruled this coastline over 2,000 years ago, we just now today are beginning to unearth the secrets of their civilization. At no place is this more apparent than at the archaeological complex of El Brujo, a collection of temples in the Chicama Valley that depict gruesome scenes of torture and burial and date back over 4,000 years.
Of the three complexes at the El Brujo complex, the Huaca Cao Viejo offers the most for visitors to experience, see, and explore. Constructed by the Moche between 200-600 AD, the Huaca de Cao has interior artwork which is similar to the Huaca de la Luna, although unlike its famous Trujillo counterpart, the artwork here hasn’t been restored at all and exists in its original state. This area wasn’t excavated until 1990, and dry sands of the coastal desert have been preserving these colorful paintings and murals for well over 1,500 years.