Peru – Trujillo and Chiclayo, An Endless Discovery
Chiclayo and Trujillo share in common the Moche and Chimu cultures, creators of the great Chan Chan citadel and the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The tomb of this very important Mochica warrior priest reveals amazing gold and silver objects of incredible value. Chan Chan, in Trujillo, is the largest mud-brick citadel built by a pre-Hispanic civilization in the Americas; it was the religious and administrative castle for the Chimu Culture until its conquest by the Incas. UNESCO listed it as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1986.
Warriors, priests, women, children and llamas were sacrificed to join the greatest Moche lord on his voyage to the afterlife. Nowadays, still many archeological mysteries are being uncovered in these territories.
The City of Trujillo, located on Peru’s northern coast, is the capital of region of La Libertad and the third largest city in Peru, after Lima and Arequipa. The city’s center has been quite properly preserved leading us to a centennial past, through its streets designed in the 16th century, and its rich architecture with a predominance of grand old houses, palaces and churches. During colonial times, the center of the city took on a stately air given by its numerous churches and gracious family homes with large wrought-iron windows.
Its year-round pleasant climate has earned it the title of “Capital of Eternal Spring”. It has wonderful beaches such as Delicias, Salaverry, Huanchaco and Chicama, venues for international surfing competitions and where local fishermen still use ‘caballitos de totora’, reed canoes made the same way for thousands of years.
Trujillo is also important economic and cultural center in the country, a place where Creole dances are cultivated, like the marinera norteña, a typical folk dance in the north of Peru and Peruvian paso horses are bred. Due to their nationwide importance, the main activities here are agribusiness with products such a sugarcane and asparagus, as well as the production of footwear.
Chiclayo, capital of the Departamento of Lambayeque, is one of the largest cities of Peru and a meeting point for people from the Coast, the Highlands and the Northern Jungle. It is situated a few kilometers from the sea and its dynamism is notable thanks to its intense commercial activity and its diversified tourist offer, which attracts many visitors each year, longing to explore or practice sports on its beaches, or to delve into its past.
Also known as Ciudad de la Amistad (The city of Friendship) because of the kindness and warmth of its people, Chiclayo is located in a region which was home to important pre-Hispanic cultures, such as the Mochica ( 1st to 7th centuries A.C.) and the Lambayeque (7th to 10th centuries A.C.) whose remains, found in different tombs and circumstances, continue to amaze the world.
Places to visitEl Brujo
This is located opposite the sea, in the District of Magdalena de Cao, in the Chicama Valley, 34 km north of Trujillo (approximately 1 hr and 15 min). This is one of the most important archaeological complexes in Peru’s northern coast. It was built through a lengthy cultural sequence which began in the pre-Ceramic period, in other words, 5,000 year ago. El Brujo consists of three large buildings: the ancient Huaca Prieta, Huaca El Brujo, belonging to the Mochica Culture, and Huaca de Cao Viejo, which features embossed figures and murals.
Huaca del Dragon or Huaca del Arco Iris
This is located in the district of la Esperanza, 5 km northwest of Trujillo (approximately 15 min). The friezes of its walls are decorated with embossed multi-colored anthropomorphic figures and styled representations of the rainbow. This Chimú ceremonial center, featuring several stories which were accessible by ramps, was used for events related to religious activities.
Chan Chan: The mud metropolis
In the Yunga language, Jarij Jarij; in English, Sun Sun. Chan Chan lies in the Moche Valley, 5 km (3 miles) northwest of the city of Trujillo. The largest mud-brick citadel built by a pre-Hispanic civilization in the Americas, Chan Chan was the religious and administrative capital of the Chimu kingdom until the conquest by the Incas. UNESCO listed it as a World Cultural Heritage in 1986.
The archaeological site covers an area of 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles) that once had an estimated population of nearly 100,000 people three types of buildings show there was housing for several different social classes, from low-income and intermediate levels to the palaces where the lords Chimu-Capac lived. The citadel was built between the 12th and 15th centuries, comprised of nine walled structures ranging from 200 meters to 400 meters long (1,312 feet), made up of flat-topped pyramids, squares, houses, storages, factories and a labyrinthine network of streets.
One of Chan Chan’s features are its towering, thick walls that are heavily-decorated with haute-relief geometric, animal and mythological figures. Its huge and strong walls were elaborately decorated with embossed geometrical figures, zoomorphic styled shapes.
The vast system of underground aqueducts and ditches, built with greater mastery to carry water along huge distances is admirable.
This archaeological complex, declared a Historical and Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, has a modern museum, where the history of the city and of its inhabitants is explained.
At a distance of 13 km northwest of Trujillo, near the archaeological complex of Chan Chan, is the seaside resort of Huanchaco, famous for the typical little horses of totora (small reed boat) and surf boards rocking in the sea, and by its picturesque restaurants always featuring fresh fish. Worth mentioning here are the pier and the handicrafts center, and in the upper area of the place, the Baroque Colonial church of the Virgen del Perpetuo Socorro. It also has good and varied hotels and restaurants.
The Port and Beaches of Chicama (Malabrigo)
Situated 94 km (1 hr and 15 min, approximately) northwest of Trujillo, these sunny and windy beaches are found, following the detour opposite km 613 of the North Panamerican Highway, in the locality of Paiján. This is a favorite area for surf lovers, since its left wave is considered the largest in the world. The port, formerly known as Malabrigo, was during the Colonial times the point where slaves brought from Africa would disembark and then proceed to work in the Peruvian Coastal Hacienda.
Otuzco is 72 km northeast of Trujillo, at 2,632 masl. It is home to one of the most important religious celebrations in northern Peru. Nearly 20,000 followers turn up each December, to worship the image of Our Lady of the Door, the town’s patron since 1664, and also considered the Patron of Northern Peru and Queen of Universal Peace. This province is also important due to its production of potatoes, corn and cereals, and for its typical dishes.
On the north coast, 33 km/20 miles north of the city of Chiclayo, lies the Valley of the Pyramids of Tucume, an architectural complex made up of 26 adobe pyramids or huacas (temples) almost 40 meters/130 feet tall. They are spread out over 220 hectares/543 acres.
The structures are from different periods and show that they were used for a number of political, administrative, social and religious purposes. They include temples, storage rooms, living quarters and areas with walls decorated in relief.
The most outstanding pyramid is Huaca Larga, the largest in south America, that measures approximately 700 meters in length (2,296 feet), 280 meters thick (918 feet) and 30 meters in length (2,296 feet), 280 meters thick (918 feet) and 30 meters high (98 feet).
In 1988, scientific research began at Tucume through an agreement between the Brunning Archaeological Museum of Lambayeque and the Kon-Tiki Museum of Oslo. The Kon-Tiki expedition, led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in 1947, discovered possible ancient routes by sailing across the Pacific between Callao in Peru and the islands of Polynesia.
The Lord of Sipan
The archeological complex of Huaca Rajada, where the splendid tomb of the Lord of Sipan was found, is on Peru’s north coast, 35 km (21 miles) southeast of the city of Chiclayo.
In 1987, a small group of Peruvian archeologists led by Dr. Walter Alva discovered at Huaca Rajada the tomb of an important Moche governor who had been buried with riches and all the symbols of his status in life. The discovery was world news and is considered as important as the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen.
The Lord of Sipan died some 1770 years ago. As sovereign, he was considered a semi-god. He lived for about 40 years and was 1.67 meters tall (5.5 feet). His rich robes and accessories included of the Lord of Sipan’s tomb, Alva and his team found two more tombs, of a priest and the need to provide an appropriate place to house the finds led to the building of the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, which opened in 2002 in the city of Lamabayeque (15 km / 9 miles from Chiclayo. This museum is one of the most important in the Americas, considered of the 21st century.
This building dates back to 1869. Of a neoclassic style, it has a double-structured portal, held by Doric columns located before the entrance’s arches. The building has three aisles; and inside, there is a carved wooden image of the Poor Christ.
Basilica of San Antonio
Also known as San Antonio de los Padres Descalzos de Chiclayo, this church was built in 1949. the wide main aisle features semicircular arches, and in the high altar there is a polychrome wooden image of a crucified Christ.
Bruning Archeological Museum
One of the most important in the northern part of the country, the Bruning Archaeological Museum houses a collection of archaeological objects from German ethnographer and linguist Enrique Bruning.
The building was inaugurated in 1966; and in its four floors, exhibits gold, silver and copper objects belonging to the various cultures which developed in the region more than 4000 years ago. The Gold Room is highlighted, since it exhibits one of the most important gold and silver jewelry collection in the Americas, with works of art including pieces found in the Tomb of the Lord of Sipán.
Located 14 km from Chiclayo, Monsefú has a rich countryside, which supplies flowers for the whole of Lambayeque. Its residents are skillful artisans with outstanding handmade items using straw, rattan and linen, such as wide-brimmed hats, baskets and ponchos, which may be seen and bought at the Handicrafts Market.
January 20 to February 2
National Marinera Contest (Trujillo)
The northern marinera is a very dynamic dance, with elegant moves and a complex choreography. The couple flirt as they wave a white handkerchief in the air with their right hand, which is used to keep the pace. This dance is deeply rooted in the region of La Libertad, and this is the reason why the contest which is celebrated there each year has become one of the most important events in this region. Couples and academies from all over the country participate in the contest. A queen is chosen and the best couple and the best typical dress are awarded prizes. This gathers many Peruvian and foreign tourists, it is the best time, really, to get to enjoy this beautiful dance.
27 to 30 (dates subject to change)
National Surfing Championship (Malabrigo)
This is celebrated every year in Chicama (Malabrigo). It is one of the main events during Easter, as it attracts surfers from the different parts of Peru and abroad, This great surfing competition features surfing on the world’s highest wave; in addition, there are also Longboard and Bodyboard races.
5 to 15 Feast of the patron, Saint Isidore, the farmer (Moche)
Moche, a Catholic and traditional town, gets in a festive mood each year, to honor the Saint Patron of Agriculture, through whom the people ask God for his grace and heavenly blessings for the fields. During the month of May the Saint is taken around the countryside and welcomed by his followers with the harvested products. The day before is an artistic cultural show and fireworks are displayed. On the main day, mass is held and this is followed by procession through the town’s main streets, accompanied by a band of musicians.
Monsefu Typical Cultural Fair
This is a tourist-oriented festival featuring the display of handcrafts by artists of Monsefú, who are experts in weaving macora straw and in making fine cloths. The show includes the local folklore as well as renowned artists.
26 to 30 Festival of the Sea (Huanchaco)
This is the main attraction of the seaside resort of Huanchaco, holding entertaining competitions in which fishermen demonstrate their skills and speed in sailing their little caballitos de totora (small reed boats)
22 to 29 Tourism Week in Chiclayo
Chiclayo there are civic, cultural, social and recreational activities with the support of public and private institutions.
22 to 29 Tourism week in Chiclayo
Chiclayo there are civic, cultural, social and recreational games and marinera festivals (typical dance from the North of Peru), handcrafts are sold as well as typical food.
29, Peruvian Paso Horse Contest(Trujillo)
This contest is organized in Trujillo by the National Association of Peruvian Paso Horse Breeders and Owners, The Spanish horse, crossed with the Arab horse and raised in the coastal desert of Peru, which shaped its pace and style, gave rise to the Peruvian Paso Horse. For 300 years, the blood of this new breed has been enhanced, until it developed the characteristics which have made it the most beautiful of its kind in the world.
September – October
20 to 4 International Spring Festival (Trujillo)
The coming of spring fills the people of Trujillo with joy and happiness. This is why they fill their homes with decorations and flowers and hold a parade with the participation of international beauty queens.
1 to 8 Feast of the Virgin of the Door (Otuzco)
On this date, called by the people of Otuzco the Day of the Day, the famous image of the Virgin of the Door is taken lowered from her altar while the public prays and leaves offerings at her feet. Then thousands of believers hold a procession and celebrations in her honor.