While discussing our travel plans for Peru, some fellow travelers suggested we break up the long haul from the Ecuadorian border to Lima, Peru, by stopping off in Trujillo, Peru, and touring the nearby Moche pyramids, Las Huacas del Sol y de La Luna, and the ancient Chimu capital of Chan Chan.

We visited the Moche temples first. Built around 600 AD, the Moche temple of Huaca de la Luna is a series of temples built on top of each other. By building their temples one on top of each other, the preservation of their carvings and paintings is impressive. Vibrant reds and yellow still exist in tact on some of the oldest walls. Unfortunately, the preservationist must deal with rains from El Niño years and sediment build up. It is thought that rains eventually caused the Moche people to build another temple, Huaca del Sol, further away from the mountain as a means of protection from the mountain runoff. Although Huaca del Sol is Peru’s largest Moche temple, it is not open to tour groups do to its instability. Currently, archaeologists are excavating between the two temples and have unearthed a city long buried by the rains. We only saw the outlines of the buildings, but in a few years it should be an interesting site to visit.

On the tour, we also visited Chimu temples. Eventually the Moche culture gave way to the Chimu, and the Chimu built an enormous city called Chan Chan around 1300 AD. The city contained more than 10,000 buildings and stretches as far as the eye can see. On the tour we visited one of the buildings, a palace of Chan Chan. Archaeologists reconstructed most of the rooms and carvings of the palace, so it’s hard to know what it really looked like, but fishing played a large role in much of the palace. Fishing nets, fish, and ocean waves were prominent carvings throughout the palace. Situated fairly close to the ocean, it makes sense that the surrounding environment played a large role in the culture.

We also visited a Chimu temple thought to be used for fertility rituals, the “rainbow temple” or “dragon temple”. Located away from the city of Chan Chan, it is an amazingly preserved temple due to the fact that it was covered by sand until the 1960s. Its high walls enclose the temple inside with intricate carvings of dragons underneath rainbows.

Besides touring the temples, we wandered around Trujillo’s colonial streets. We found the main plaza, Plaza de Armes, to be quite striking with its brightly colored buildings contrasting each other. The Lonely Planet does not give much props to Trujillo,but thus far it is our favorite city in Peru. As always, our recent photos can be viewed on Chris’ and Jodi’s flickr pages.

One Response to “Trujillo and the surrounding temples”

  1. Mom and Dad says:

    We really enjoy the pictures. You ought to be a photographer for Natonal Geographic.