Action Adventures

A Complete Guide to the Peruvian Cities of Trujillo and Chiclayo

by

16-02-2024

During a luxurious travel experience in Trujillo and Chiclayo, Peru, one will deeply engage with the region renowned as the Cultural Capital of the country. The summer season (December through February) in the southern hemisphere is the most favorable time to visit this region of Peru, which is known for its agreeable climate throughout the year. Although northwestern Peru offers pleasant temperatures, stunning coastlines, and exceptionally fresh seafood, other locales such as Trujillo and Chiclayo offer the supplementary benefit of profound historical and cultural encounters. 


Trujillo and Chiclayo, two cities influenced by the ancient Moche and Chimu civilizations while still offering contemporary luxury traveler excursions, are the subjects of this introduction. We shall investigate enigmatic archaeological sites—including royal tombs—awe-inspiring architecture from the 17th century—and nature retreats in close proximity. Dive into the heart of Trujillo and Chiclayo, where the whispers of ancient tombs and the grandeur of 17th-century architecture merge seamlessly with the surrounding natural beauty.

Trujillo

Prior to its establishment by the Spanish in the 16th century, Trujillo was inhabited by the Chimu and the Moche, two major pre-Inca civilizations. From approximately 200 B.C. to 700 A.D., these two elaborate civilizations established their headquarters in Trujillo. Certain sites in the Americas are considered to be of the utmost significance as remnants of the pre-Inca civilization. 

 

Surfers flock to Trujillo, lured by its waves and the city's nickname, "City of Eternal Spring," where history buffs also find their haven amid a climate that never disappoints. And notwithstanding its status as the third most populous city in Peru, Trujillo has emerged as the Cultural Capital of the country by diligently safeguarding the vestiges of its illustrious past. 

 

The Marinera, well-known as Peru's national dance, and the Peruvian Paso Horse, a horse breed distinguished by its sophisticated high-stepping motion, both originated in Trujillo. It is the epicenter of national and international cultural events, including the Marinera Festival in January, the International Book Festival in March, and the Trujillo Spring Festival, which commences at the end of September. Its thriving artists' community is situated within an hour's flight of the capital city of Lima. 

Consider the year-round wonders that Trujillo has to offer! 

Chan Chan 

An important archaeological site in the vicinity of Trujillo is Chan Chan, which was once the most expansive adobe metropolis. Back in '86, UNESCO gave Chan Chan a major nod as a World Heritage site, marking it for its historical significance. It was inhabited by the Chimu civilization around 850 A.D. and is considered the most sizable pre-Columbian adobe metropolis in South America. 

 

During the height of the Chimu civilization, 30,000 individuals resided in Chan Chan. Nestled within Chan Chan's walls, ten citadels stood, each a bustling hub with homes, sacred burial sites, temples for worship, spaces for rituals, and systems to store water. Subsequently, elaborate motifs representing marine life such as fish, birds, sea creatures, crabs, and turtles were inlaid into the smooth-finished adobe walls. 

Despite the Chimus being vanquished by the Incas in 1470, the magnificent Chan Chan complex remained operational until the Spanish conquest, at which point it was looted and destroyed. Climate change and its harsh impact on Chan Chan's delicate mud walls have made constant digging and repair work a must. 

Solar and lunar Temples

In close proximity to the city in the northwest is an additional significant archaeological site known as the Temples of the Sun and Moon, which stands as the most enormous adobe pyramid in Peru. The temples, which are known in Spanish as Huacas del Sol y Luna, are situated atop the volcanic peak of Cerro Blanco. Several centuries passed before the Moche people could finish constructing the archaeological sites, which were considerably older than Chan Chan. 

 

The Huaca del Sol was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure in the Americas, composed of over 130 million adobe tiles. Its intentions are thought to have been political and administrative in nature. Although smaller, the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) is better preserved and is situated at the same location. Notwithstanding its diminutive stature, the Temple of the Moon plausibly held more significance due to its hypothesized function as the primary locus of political and ceremonial activities for the Moche.

The Plaza Armas

Spending a few hours in the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) of Trujillo, which is surrounded by colorful, exquisite facades, is an excellent way to take in the pleasant climate and vibrant local culture. Without a doubt, the canary-yellow Cathedral Basilica and the Liberty Monument, which is positioned in the center of the piazza, will capture your attention (more on that below). The Liberty Monument (alternatively named the Freedom Monument) is a marble sculpture that was created by Edmund Moeller, a German sculptor. The monument, which was dedicated in 1929, exalts the libertarian faction responsible for securing Trujillo's independence in 1820. Observe the three sections that symbolize the sciences, health, and art; the struggle for freedom, and liberation, up close. 

Cathedral Basilica

Trujillo retains its colonial-era aesthetic with the preservation of baroque churches and vibrant residential structures. An exemplary instance is Cathedral Basilica, colloquially known as "La Catedral" by the local populace. Situated in front of the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, which was completed in the 17th century, was devastated by an earthquake a century later and was subsequently reconstructed. The cathedral, once a grand basilica, now houses an impressive collection of art from the time when viceroys ruled. Art historians may find the Rococo interiors and Baroque altarpieces to be quite enthralling. 

Huanchaco Beach

Another noteworthy destination that can be reached in a brief time via bus or car from Trujillo is the coastal town of Huanchaco. Popular among Peruvian tourists, Huanchaco is renowned for its ceviche, caballitos de totora, which are caballitos made of reeds and trace back to the pre-Inca era. They continue to be utilized while mounted atop horses, hence the moniker "little reed horses." Friendliness and the allure of the coast render Huanchaco an ideal destination for the seafaring traveler. 

El Brujo Complex

Hidden in the Chicama Valley, the intriguing El Brujo Complex is located less than an hour's journey from the city center. Originally referred to as the Wizard's Complex, this magnificent archaeological site was constructed during the Moche era. The structures, which comprise three huacas (sacred spaces), are approximately 2,000 years old. Seora de Cao, an exceptionally remarkable and relatively recent archaeological discovery, was adorned with elaborate jewelry and bore the insignia of a woman of probable prominence, reckoned with the Moche people or even a monarch. In 2006, her mummified remains were unearthed in the Huaca Cao; they are currently on display at the Cao Museum.

CHICLAYO

Although it has earned the moniker "Friendship Capital of Peru," Chiclayo, located in northwestern Peru, is a thriving metropolis. Chiclayo is, in fact, ranked as the fourth most populous municipality in Peru. Embedded with archaeological remnants and brimming with gastronomic marvels, Chiclayo is an exceptional locale for affluent travelers in search of somewhat unconventional experiences. 

 

Chiclayo's allure is anchored in its ancient pyramids and relics that narrate a rich history, captivating those with a thirst for adventure and discovery. In the sixteenth century, Spanish missionaries introduced a transformative influence to the region through the imprint of their majestic architecture. Presently, numerous tourists concur that the archaeological museum in Chiclayo is among the finest in all of South America. In the interim, distinctive flora and fauna are safeguarded in natural sanctuaries, much to the delight of tourists of every age. 

 

Join us as we explore the heart of Chiclayo, uncovering must-visit landmarks and premier experiences that truly capture the city's dynamic spirit. 

The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum Of Saint Paul. 

Prominent in architecture, irrigation systems, and cultivation, the Moche civilization's enigmatic remnants are dispersed throughout the region encompassing contemporary Chiclayo. Explore a collection of artistic and cultural manifestations from the Moche culture on a guided tour at this museum. The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum was even constructed to resemble the pyramids of the ancient culture. 

The Lord of Sipan's tomb, a discovery that revolutionized our understanding of Western Hemisphere archaeology, is the namesake of this museum. The renowned Moche monarch, who was interred alongside numerous jewelry items and decorations, was discovered in 1987 by archaeologists from Peru. In addition to the aforementioned sovereign and his purported guards, the museum houses extensive gold and other treasure collections from the nearby ongoing excavations. 

Pimentel Beach

Playa Pimentel, which is a brief drive from the city center, is a year-round pleasant beach. This coastal location is frequented by both local residents and tourists in search of an ideal site to windsurf or surf. Despite this, one should not anticipate an overly congested beach; the region remains tranquil and is perfect for a day of relaxation. Before proceeding to one of the ceviche restaurants in the vicinity, spend some time lounging on the shore or playing in the water. 

Tucume (Pyramid Valley Valley). 

Valley of the Pyramids, Tucume, is an exceptionally otherworldly location close to Chiclayo. Since its inception in approximately 700 A.D., the Valley of the Pyramids has been encircled by a forest of carob trees and comprises 26 clay brick structures. On the 540-acre site, the 30-meter-tall Huaca Larga is the tallest pyramid. The Sicans, an early civilization later overtaken by the Chimus around the 14th century, are believed to have first established this remarkable site. Besides the climbable trail that leads to a panoramic view over the Valley of Pyramids, there's also an on-site museum packed with insights. 

Pomac Dry Forest. 

The arid coastal Pomac Forest, situated approximately one hour from the heart of Chiclayo, is recognized as a historical sanctuary. Archaeological marvels, such as Batan Grande and the tomb of the Lord of Sican (not to be confounded with the Lord of Sipan), are situated within the rare dry equatorial forest. Batan Grande, which was constructed between 700 and 1100 A.D., is an example of Sican architecture with twenty adobe pyramids. 

 

At Batan Grande, archaeologists have struck gold, unearthing tombs packed with the Sican's legacy: finely crafted pottery, elaborate metalwork, and masks for rituals that give us a glimpse into their time-honored traditions. Among the interred was the esteemed dignitary Lord of Sican, whose personal artifacts were discovered. A wonderful stopover en route to Chachapoyas, this location is accessible via equestrian.

If you are interested to visit Trujillo and Chiclayo, our travel experts may help to you plan your next peru luxury trip.