The desert valley surrounding Trujillo was once the territory of the Moche and Chimú people. Pre-Inca ruins in the region provide insight into these fascinating early civilizations, from their spiritual beliefs to city planning practices. See below for our top picks of archaeological sites in and around Trujillo.
The largest and perhaps most significant archaeological site in Trujillo, the ancient adobe city of Chan Chan was built by the Chimú people and was active between the mid-ninth and 15th century. At its height, around 60,000 people lived here, and its rulers are thought to have been fabulously wealthy, with large reserves of gold, silver, and precious materials. Visitors can wander a portion of the site and view ceremonial courtyards, frieze-covered walls, and other ancient structures.
Temples of Moche
These two adobe temples—the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon—predate Chan Chan by several centuries. Built with around 140 million adobe bricks, the Temple of the Sun would have been an imposing sight, though only parts of it have survived to the present day. The smaller of the two temples, the Temple of the Moon, was most likely used for ceremonial purposes and features some of the colorful wall friezes the Moche people are known for producing.
The Temple of the Dragon
Situated near Chan Chan and believed to have been constructed between the 10th and 11th century, this adobe pyramid is adorned with wall reliefs depicting human, animal, and anthropomorphic creatures. Look out for the dragon relief, after which the temple is named.
Located north of Trujillo, this archaeological site features remains from the Sicán, Chimú, and Moche cultures. Among the star finds to have been uncovered at El Brujo are Moche murals and the Lady of Cao, a mummy discovered in 2006. The mummy, as well as various objects that were buried with her, can be seen at the on-site museum.