Archaeological Places in Trujillo - La Libertad


Chan Chan

The most important cultural nucleus in the Chimú Nation. Archaeological complex - Cultural World Heritage, UNESCO. Chan Chan was the capital of Chimú Kingdom, reached its peak in the 15th century, not long before falling under the Incas. City made of mud, considered as the biggest in America and one of the biggest of the world; its importance is only comparable to the old cities of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China or Teotihuacán in Mexico.


"Huaca del Sol" (Sun Temple) and "Huaca de la Luna" (Moon Temple)

Visiting Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Entrance Fees Pyramid of the Moon: Adults : S/. 10.00, University Students: S/. 5.00, Children students: S/. 1.00

Services: Ticket Office, Cafeteria, Artisan Plaza, Paint Like the Moche, Guide in Spanish or English, Restrooms, Parking Lot

Located 8 Km / 5 miles south of the city of Trujillo (15 minutes by car). An archaeological complex of the Moche culture, located in the moche countryside near the city of Trujillo. This ancient city was the capital and center of power of the Moche civilization. The Pyramid of the Moon is a temple that was the site of pilgrimages made by the people of the coast and of the northern mountains, a sacred space of communication with the gods. Its impressive architecture is decorated with polychrome murals, many of them one of a kind, that transport us to the world of the Moche—their deities, their battles, their sacrifices…in the Pyramid of the Moon one can see well-preserved representations of myths, various versions of the God of the Mountains, animals depicted with attributes of those who sacrificed them, mythical men, and humanized objects, among other items. To experience the Pyramid of the Moon is to relive 800 years of history, and to learn of the peak and decline of one of the most surprising societies of pre-Incan Peru.


The kingdom of Chimor can be traced back to the Moche –for the name of the valley- or Mochica, as these people are called in the pre-Hispanic language of the neighboring Lambayeque department. The Chimor spread between the second and eighth centuries AD along 700 km of between the valleys of Piura and Huarmey. On the left bank of the Moche river, 8 km from the city of Trujillo, was located the main power center of the Mochica civilization, at the sol and Luna Huacas, as they are known today. The Sun Huaca- or temple- is the largest of all pre-Hispanic pyramids and compares by volume to the Egyptian pyramids at Saqqara. Its construction required some 143 million mud bricks. Unfortunately, a sizable part of this edification was destroyed by looters who in 1602 cut the pyramid in two by making the river's waters flow through its middle.


An impressive cross section left by the river waters shows the successive development stages of the pyramid, both outwards from the core and upwards from the basis. As other similar construction from pre-ceramic times, the Moche temples were subject to periodical renovations after their users had carefully covered with dirt the areas that were no longer in use. To build the high platforms, they erected large rectangular molded-adobe columns reclining against each other. People from several groups must have contributed their labor as tax paid to the state to build the temple.


The pyramidal Cerro Blanco (White Mountain) is 500 meters away. At its foot stands the Huaca de la Luna or Moon Temple (95 x 85 x 25 meters) in sharp visual and ceremonial contrast to the Temple of the Sun. It comprises three independent ceremonial compounds, each possessing a system of restricted access ways, wallet courtyards and roofed halls. On the walls, polychrome paintings and high reliefs seem to have been made only yesterday. At present, most areas are protected with roofs and provided with walkways for visitors. The temple's external walls are decorated with high relief motifs of fanged deities, with hair made of monster snakes ending in heads of marine birds. A Similar divinity guard the main entrance to the central complex, flanked on each side by a sliding viper crowned with a condor head. Both characters appear again in the scenes painted on Moche ceremonial pottery to describe myths and ritual practices. One of the personages is represented as a fisherman wielding his power over the seas. The other one appears as living in the heart of the mountains. Usually depicted as an owl or a spider in the company of baths, this divinity stands for the night and the netherworld. The knife and the head, he holds in his hand, shows his third for human sacrifices. Some scenes show the sacrifice of victims pushed downhill to kill them in his honor.


Some private inner temple chambers to which access was restrictive were also decorated with mural paintings, the most renowned among
which depicts some scenes from the myth about the "rebellion of things" where the warriors' clothes and weapons rebelled against their masters, defeated them in combat and offered the prisoners' blood to a supernatural couple: a male god with an owl face and a woman with braided snakes as hair. Often, the woman is seen drinking from the first quarter Moon while sailing the sea, thus leading weapons, and processions of prisoners decorated the walls along the ramp leading into the main building.


Between the two Huaca temples there is a flat area long believed to have been a square or a vacant lot. Excavations have revealed that the area is in fact full of constructions. A whole city now hidden under the sand, it depended on the two temples for its livelihood. A broad avenue running parallel to the Moon temple channeled human traffic and divided the cult and the residential areas. Small squares with a single access point were surrounded by houses of several rooms. Next to them, the workshop produced religious paraphernalia, ceramics and metal objects. Its dimension and orderly layout give the ensemble a clear urban aspect.


Museo Huacas del Moche

Visiting hours: Monday – Sunday 9 AM – 4 PM. Located approximately 500 meters from the Pyramid of the Moon (5 minutes on foot)
This museum exhibits part of the collection of artifacts found during the excavations carried out by the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon Archaeological Project over 19 years. The museum has three thematically organized rooms with showcases depicting components of the life, city and environment of the Moche. There is also a feature on the Moche's worship of power and of the Mountain God (Aia Pæc). A visit to the museum also complements the tour of the Pyramid of the Moon with its videos illustrating the Moche iconography as utilized in the architecture of the site. The museum also features unique pottery of great beauty, originality and symbolism. Among the artifacts are the Pato Guerrero (Warrior Duck), the Sacerdote Ciego (Blind Priest) with a scarred face depicted in a shamanic trance, and the Feline Mantle (Manto Felino), a small garment covered in gold leaf on a base of cotton and leather that is decorated with feathers. This was used in rituals such as the Coca Ceremony.


"Huaca el Dragon" (Dragon Temple)

Also called "Huaca del Arco Iris" (rainbow temple), 4 Km / 3 miles from the city of Trujillo (10 minutes by car). This adobe pyramid is especially important since its construction was done at the beginning of the Chimu culture and at the end of the Tiahuanuco-Wari culture between the tenth and eleventh centuries A.D. Its estimated age is 1100 years. The building has a square base and walls decorated with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic representations in high relief. The name of the Dragon cames from one of these figures, a two-headed creature with uncountable feet, similar to a dragon. Researchers consider that one of the purposes of this place was ceremonial (it would have been linked to rituals in honor of the rainbow and other natural phenomena related to fertility). Advisable minimum time for your visit two hours and thirty minutes.


The Emerald Huaca

3 Km / 2 miles from the city of Trujillo, in the El Cortijo Production Co-op (8 minute by car). This archeological site is associated to the Chimu culture and was built linked to Chan Chan. The building has a rectangular base (65 meters / 213 feet long and 41 meters / 135 feet wide) and two platforms with central ramps. The adobe walls are decorated with zoomorphic and geometric motifs in high relief.


"Caballo Muerto" (Dead horse)

Archaeological Center which antiquity is considered in 1000 BC., located in Laredo, north of Trujillo. Outstanding the structure of "Huaca de Los Reyes" (Kings Temple), is conformed by superimposed platforms and distributed in "U" form, ceremonial patio at the center, and in its contour colored heads of feline gods.


Archaeological Complex "El Brujo" (The Sorcerer)

The El Brujo Archaeological Complex is an ancient monument of the Moche culture. It includes Huaca Prieta and the nearby colonial remains of Salinar, Moche, Lambayeque, Chimú. The Huaca El Brujo and Huaca Cao Viejo were built by the Moche sometime between 1 and 600 A.D. Huaca Cao Viejo is famous for its polychrome reliefs and mural paintings, and the discovery (1990) of the Señora de Cao, the first known Governess in Peru. Site Museum.


"Huaca Prieta" (Blackish Temple)

Archaeological pre-Inca Center (2500 BC.) located in Chicama at 30 km north of Trujillo. It was inhabited by an agricultural society, in the pre-ceramic era.


Markahuamachuco Archeological Complex

Huamachuco, capital of the Province, is located 181 km / 113 miles east of Trujillo (8 hours by bus); from there, it is another ten more kilometers to arrive at the archeological complex (30 minutes by car). It is located 3200 masl / 10.499 fasl and features several periods of occupation. Its stone walls rise over a plateau 5 km2 / 2 miles2 with hazardous abysses seirmounted by ovoid based towers (circular) of more than 10 meters / 33 feet in height.



This archeological site is located on a plain north of the city of Huamachuco. The highest part stands towards the south and the lowest part towards the north. On this archeological stage, the performance of the Waman Raymi is set up and shown in August. According to some investigations, this city was abandoned without being completed as shown by some unfinished walls and rooms that have cleary never been inhabited.


Pakatnamu Complex

14 Km / 9 miles from Pacasmayo (30 minutes by car). It is an enormous archeological site next to the mouth of the Jequetepeque River with fifty truncated pyramids, other complexes of rooms, plazas, fortifications, walls with reliefs, and various halls.


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