This northern city, located on the seaward edge of a vast desert plane, is rich in pre-Columbian, colonial and modern history. The most important archaeological attractions are within easy reach of the city. Trujillo, founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1534, features many jewels of colonial architecture in the main square and narrow surrounding streets.
Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Empire, which appeared on the Peruvian coast around 1100 A.D. Covering several acres, the Tschudi temple-citadel is the largest and most frequently visited sector of the ruins. The Huaca de la Luna, a ritual and ceremonial site recently restored with funds from a national brewery, and the Huaca del Sol next to it, were built by the Moche civilization around 500 A.D.
El Brujo is a 247-acre (100 hectares) archaeological complex, whose first inhabitants were nomads and hunter and gatherer tribes more than 5,000 years ago. The Moche Culture built pyramids used for religious rituals and sacrifices for more than 700 years until around 700 A.D. Viejo temple. In one of them, archaeologist Regulo Franco discovered the mummified remains of a woman decorated with tattoos of snakes and spiders. Dubbed “The Lady of Cao,” the woman is believed to have been the first known female ruler of pre-Columbian Peru — a Cleopatra of South America. Her body was covered in cinnabar (mercury sulphur), which prevented decomposition by inhibiting insects from laying eggs, and she was adorned with accessories and jewelry crafted from copper and gold.
About seven miles (12km) from Trujillo, the fishing village of Huanchaco offers visitors a sandy, peaceful beach, strewn with small fishing boats fashioned from reeds. There are also excellent seafood restaurants, a long, somewhat dilapidated, pier and a crafts market.
Known for the hospitality of its residents, Trujillo hosts a festival in the last week of January featuring a competition of the elegant but seductive marinera dance.