While the Peruvian city of Trujillo is not all that exciting, it is still worth using as a launch point as there are a number of cool archaeological sites nearby. This region of Peru was once home to the Moche civilization; their heyday was between 100 and 700 AD. The Moche people were an agricultural society but were known for their gold work, painted ceramics, and large huacas (temples). And all of these you can still see today during a visit to the region around Trujillo.
Huaca del Sol
While it was probably the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure in the Americas (archaeologists estimate that over 130 million adobe bricks were used to build this place), there isn’t a whole lot left of this pyramid. We can thank the Spanish conquistadores for that. They weren’t exactly gentle when they looted the place. Time and erosion are other factors contributing to the continued ruin of this temple – remember, it is made from adobe!
So…you can’t actually visit this huaca. You can only view it from afar as you visit the next huaca, the Huaca de la Luna.
Huaca de la Luna
This temple is smaller than the Huaca del Sol but is much better preserved. This huaca would have been used mostly for religious and ceremonial purposes, and so yields a lot more interesting archaeological finds. There are some intriguing friezes, some surprisingly still with strong colours. It was pretty cool to wander around the various levels of the temple looking at the religious murals. And yes, this temple would have had human sacrifices; the ceremonial platform for this purpose is still there!
Tip: Also check out the nearby museum as it displays the many items found within the two huacas. You will only need 40 minutes maximum to explore this small museum. Note that cameras are not allowed, unfortunately (keep it in your bag and don’t attempt to sneak photos).
Huaca del Dragon
Also called the Huaca del Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple), this huaca lies in the town of Trujillo itself. It is a small temple but it had many friezes to admire. They were primarily of people, dragon-like figures, and rainbows. What made this huaca fun for me was that I enjoyed standing on a thousand year old structure while surrounded by modern buildings and traffic!
Tip: Keep your eyes open before heading into the huaca. If you’re lucky, you may find a Peruvian Hairless Dog here! It is such a strange looking creature…