The Temples de Moche (Huacas de Moche), are Trujillo’s two most important sites that date to the Moche Empire. It’s hard to enough to fathom that civilizations existed here over 2,000 years ago, and even harder to fathom how some of their artwork has miraculously managed to remain.
At the Huaca de la Luna—Temple of the Moon—archaeologists are still uncovering frescoes which were thankfully missed by looters. Many of the paintings depict the deity Ayapec, whose snarling face and animated teeth are found on everything from ceramics to walls. It’s also believed that Huaca de Luna was a site of human sacrifice, and diggers have unearthed dozens of remains that suggest torture, warfare, and sacrifice. Given the murals and the human remains, it’s highly likely that the Huaca de Luna was a site of religious importance, and walking the corridors of the temple today is as enchanting as it is surreal.
Across the dusty Moche Valley, the Huaca del Sol—Temple of the Sun—rises 135 feet from the desert and is comprised of over 50 million bricks. It’s officially classified as the world’s largest adobe structure, although due to heavy looting by the Spanish and damage from El Niño rains, the temple hasn’t been excavated as heavily and is closed to the general public.
The Huacas de Moche are located 2.5 miles outside of the city of Trujillo, and entrance tickets are $4, including an English-speaking guide. Much of the tour of Huaca de la Luna is inside of the temple, and temperatures in the summer months of January-March can reach upwards of 85 degrees when inside. There is also a small museum which adjoins the temple and offers gifts, ceramics, and more information on the ancient Moche culture.