One of the most important cities in Northern Peru, Trujillo was founded back in 1535 and derived its moniker from…
The city of Chan Chan had an estimated population of 35,000 between 1100 and 1300 AD.
By Andrew Kolasinski
Ten minutes outside Peru’s northern city of Trujillo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose scale staggers the imagination. Chan Chan, the ancient adobe city of the Chimu culture is simply immense, covering almost 5,000 acres.
The site, the capital of Peru’s biggest pre-Inca empire is the world’s largest adobe structure.
In 2006, archaeologists in Peru found the 1,600-year-old remains of a warrior woman and leader in northern Peru. They call her la Señora de Cao, and she is now housed at El Brujo Archaeological Complex, where visitors can see the tattoos on her well preserved arms.
In this interview, Régulo Franco, head of the project at El Brujo, talks about the significance of the Lady of Cao’s discovery and how tourists can enjoy a visit to the ruins and museum.
El Brujo Archaeological Complex is the site of ruins, a museum and the mummy of a 1,600-year-old female leader.
By Milagros Vera Colens, El Comercio
Adapted from Spanish by Diana Schwalb
Why should we visit the El Brujo complex?
Régulo Franco: Because you will find a cultural sequence of 5,000 years, from preceramic times to the European occupation in the 16th century. We also have one of the main sanctuaries of the Moches, with reliefs of magical and religious images. And also because we have a museum — the Cao museum — which contains jewelry and relics found in these 20 years of management [of the El Brujo archaeological complex] and which has the mummy of a female ruler in an extraordinary state of preservation, along with her personal jewelry and clothing.
Huanchaco’s sunsets in the early spring months are not the Technicolor radiance of tropical postcards; they are pastel confections of slate gray and pale pink, the sun a bloody disk swallowed up by a sea that boils like mercury, reflecting the rose and bronze of the sky. I could sit on the beach and watch those sunsets forever.
Sunsets on the beach are a novelty for a desert-born girl like me. They were half the reason I wanted to stay in Huanchaco in the first place, but when we told people where our new apartment was, they looked at us like we’d been had. “That’s so far from the beach,” we were told over and over again. “But it’s only five blocks,” we replied. They just shook their heads.
Welcome to Huanchaco. It’s mellow, tranquilo. The locals use the word to describe why they live there, the foreign surfers use it to describe why they’ve stayed so much longer than they intended. For some travelers, though, it’s pejorative. Recently arrived from partying in Máncora, they shrug: Huanchaco is too tranquilo.
By Renzo Guerrero de Luna
For El Comercio
Doña Panchita is visited even by the President for her famous deep fried pork. For over 30 years, this fine lady, mother of 10 children, prepares what for many is the best breakfast in Trujillo: a portion of pork cooked in a pot served with yucca, salad, coffee and two loaves of bread. On a good day she sells about 150 kilos, say one of her daughters and one of her daughters-in-law. “We are one big happy family united in this business thanks to these wonderful hands (Doña Panchita’s),” they say as they proudly show pictures of the authorities who visit them regularly. Most of them belong to the APRA party, they admit without hiding their sympathy with the party of the red star, although they make it clear that all are treated equally. With the same love.
Just like this place, located in block 5 of Spain Avenue, others have become a reference point for those who know good food. One of them is undoubtedly the Salon de Te Buenos Aires. Dozens of people enter and exit this place on block 3 of Jiron Pizarro (half a block from the Plaza de Armas in Trujillo) with a smile that says it all. Their sandwiches are delicious, especially the turkey sandwich. Unbeatable. Doña Carmen Maeshiro runs this place that has existed for 67 years. It is almost an institution. When asked about the secret sauce that accompanies the turkey, this lady gracefully changes the subject. Her workers do not know. At first glance, it contains Chinese onion. Other than that, we can say very little but enjoy very much.
Does toiling under the hot desert sun heaving bricks up a ladder to rebuild collapsing walls interest you? What if the walls were many hundreds and hundreds of years old and part of the world’s largest adobe city, one of the largest cities of any kind in the ancient world? A city home to the rulers of the Peruvian desert coast, the Chimú imperial heart of Chan Chan. Does a couple of days of hands-on archaeology at one of the world’s most important archaeological sites interest YOU?
After the vicious attack on the Huaca Arco Iris by a group of vandals, authorities in Trujillo are seeking the immediate restarting of a program that existed that allowed volunteers to take part in the restoration of ancient Chan Chan.
- By Jessie Kwak
Photos by Robert Kittilson
In 1942 the seventeenth-century wall that once protected Trujillo was torn down and replaced by Avenida España. For the tourist on foot, the traffic on Avenida España is nearly as secure a defense: it encircles the historic core, a moat of choking fumes and blaring horns, and it should be crossed with care to a soundtrack of screeching brakes. Only then can the core of Trujillo be breached.
Guidebooks call Trujillo one of the most colonial cities in Peru. Founded in 1534, Trujillo has managed to preserve many of its Colonial- and Republican-era homes, the Casonas Antiguas. Some of these stately homes have been preserved as museums, some restored and now home to banks, some gutted and reborn as supermarkets, and some are quietly decaying behind locked doors. The best-preserved have been singled out in tourism literature, but the city’s history is not contained in these monuments only.
- By María Helena Tord
For El Comercio
In 2006, the archaeological complex El Brujo was in the news for the discovery of a richly dressed, mysterious sovereign Moche woman’s tomb. Now after several years, a stupendous museum has opened. It holds the remains of this woman and lets visitors know a bit more about the Moche culture which used the Chicama valley as one of its ceremonial centers.
The archaeological complex is called El Brujo by the local people due to the great affluence of shamans. It is over 5,000 years old and started with the Huaca Prieta which was a key site of study for Junius Bird.
There evidence was found of the domestication of plants from 2,300 BC, that is, 1,500 years before Chavín. This was the first time that Carbon-14 tests had been used in our country.
Back to the Past
The Mochicas arrived here at the beginning of our era. From approximately 100 to 650 AD, this place served as a ceremonial center. During this period, the architecture went through lots of expansions and renovations that produced four superimposed buildings.