Successfully preserving most of its original appearance after hundreds of years, Trujillo will hurl you back to its colonial past as soon as you hit its narrow streets and impressive array of churches and other exquisite colonial buildings.
As the third largest city in Peru and also the capital of the La Libertad department, Trujillo is wealthier than the others due to its flourishing agricultural industry. It has a natural and strong penchant for politics. In the year 1820, it became the first Peruvian city to declare independence from the colonizing Spanish empire. This headstrong attitude and free-spiritedness were carried all the way through the 20th century. Thus, do not be surprised if you come across poets, artists, bohemians and political demonstrators while exploring the city.
Perhaps Trujillo’s most popular tourist destination is its very own historical center, which had been enclosed by medieval walls to protect it from pirate incursions. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will find lovely colonial mansions adorned with wrought-iron window railings and ornate gates. The convents, churches, squares and other old buildings at the historical center reflect the rich heritage and opulence of Trujillo.
Although it may be a simple activity, but strolling around this old center is one of the must-dos while visiting the city. There is an excellent selection of museums in and around Trujillo. Some of the popular ones include the Jose Cassinelli Museum of Archeology and the National University of Trujillo Museum of Archeology Anthropology. Both institutions maintain collections of relics from the Pre-Hispanic Mochica and Chimu cultures.
Because of its ideal location, which is at the heart of the Viru, Chao, Chicama and Moche valleys, Trujillo has become a favored access point to prime attractions in the region such as the Moche Huacas del Sol y de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon) and Chan Chan, the former capital of the pre-Inca Chimu civilization. Just a 15-minute ride from the city brings you to the resort town of Huanchaco, popular to beach enthusiasts and surfers.
The archaeological complex of Chan Chan in particular, is also a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. The city, which is made of mud, is known to be one of the largest of its kind in the world. Chan Chan’s status and importance is comparable to other old cities in China, Egypt and India. The old city fell under the hands of the Incas in the later 15th century and is now mostly a 20-square kilometer eroded adobe.
To reach the ruins, you can easily arrange for a taxi to bring you to and from Trujillo. Budget conscious travelers can opt for the local transport, combi/colectivo that heads to Huanchaco and collects passengers from Ovalo Grau and Ave Espaoa.
The Moche Huacas del Sol y de la Luna can also be reached via the combi/colectivo route between Huayna Capac and Suarez. Built during the Moche Empire that reigned in the region from A.D.100-800; Huacas del Sol or Temple of the Sun was the administrative center while the Huaca de la Luna or Temple of the Moon was made to be the epicenter of religion for the empire.
The biggest draw to the site is the magnificent murals that are considered to be the best-preserved in Peru. It is also equipped with a museum and some souvenir stalls. Your entrance ticket to the ruins includes a guided group tour in either Spanish or English.