The Trujillo surrounding area is full of unique archeological sites, from the Huaca Prieta, Chavín, Moche, and Chimú cultures. These are some of the oldest ruins in Peru, dating back as far as 5000 years ago.
Temple of the sun and Temple of the Moon
About 10km / 6 mi southeast of Trujillo, on the bank of the Río Moche, are the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon). These are pyramid structures, built around 500 AD. The largest of these, which is thought to be the largest pre-Columbian structure found in Peru, is the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun).Although some of the original structure has been washed away, Huaca del Sol was made from approximately 140 million adobe bricks and measured 342m / 1104ft by 159m / 513ft, with a height of 45m / 145ft.Across from the Huaca del Sol is the smaller and better preserved Huaca de la Luna. Unlike the other pyramid, Huaca de la Luna has been excavated, a process which is still ongoing. The interior reveals five individual levels that were completely separate from each other. This is probably due to the fact that the Huaca de la Luna was built over six centuries. Original ceramics and precious metals can still be seen in the rooms of the building.
Chan Chan is located about 5km / 3mi north of Trujillo, in the Moche Valley. This pre-Columbian city, once the capital of the Chimú Empire, is claimed to be the largest adobe city in the world. Chan Chan covers an area of approximately 25sq km / 9.75sq mi and once housed up to 60,000 residents. It was established around 1300 AD and had a wealth of treasures. The gold and silver contained in the city were looted with the arrival of the Spanish. Today, Chan Chan is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.This archeological site is well marked with directional arrows to guide visitors. A guide is not necessary but may be informative. There is a Chan Chan site museum on the road into the site with information on Chan Chan and the Chimú culture.
Huanchaco is a small fishing village just north of Trujillo. This is a great place for travelers looking for a nice beach area near Trujillo. It is best during the summer months of December to April when the ocean is warm enough for swimming, but there is good surfing here year round.Huanchaco is also one of the few areas where you can still see local people using reed fishing boats known as "caballitos". These boats, unlike those at Lake Titicaca, are tubular and hollow rafts that are ridden on, rather than in. They can usually be seen pulled up on the beach when they're not in use.Huanchaco is a very relaxed and slow paced town. Other than the unique fishing boats and the beach, the only other real attraction is the 16th Century colonial church, which is one of the oldest in Peru.
A very little visited archeological site, which is still undergoing restoration is El Brujo. This site was the product of the Huaca Prieta culture that inhabited the region from approximately 3500-2200 BC. Some portions of the El Brujo archeological site, including Huaca Prieta are 5000 years old.There are three main temples, Huaca Prieta, Huaca Cao Viejo, and Huaca El Brujo. The Huaca Cao Viejo is the most interesting for visitors with huge friezes showing warriors, priests, and ceremonies. Huaca El Brujo has not been excavated at this point. Huaca Prieta is very interesting from a historical perspective but may be less interesting visually.
Just a few kilometers northwest of Trujillo in the suburb of La Esperanza is the Huaca Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple). Locally the site is also referred to as Huaca El Dragon (Dragon Temple). Both names come from the friezes on the walls, some of which are in the shape of rainbows and another which is thought to be a dragon.This well preserved Chimú temple was excavated in the 1960s, with the upper region being rebuilt. The defensive wall is more than 2m / 6.5ft thick, and there is only one entrance. There is a very small site museum, as well as souvenir shops.