The city of Trujillo, the gateway to see the ruins of Chan Chan, is located 561 Kms. North of Lima and is the capital of the State of La Libertad. It is also called the capital of the Marinera, a typical Peruvian dance, danced with straw hat, handkerchief and linen poncho. It was founded in 1534, its atmosphere stems from its fine colonial mansions and old churches, its gentle and warm climate, the affability and open caustic spirit of its people, and its cuisine. The nearby ruins (Chan-Chan) make it an ideal place to admire the development reached by pre-Inca civilizations, from which the famous Mochica picture-pottery and Chimu goldsmithery come. It is the most important center of cultural activity in North Peru.
Trujillo was founded before Lima (1534) and it was so named by Diego de Almagro in homage to the conqueror Pizarro. The chosen site was in the valley of the Moche River, near the changing sands, where, close to the sea, once proudly stood the now abandoned labyrinth city of Chan Chan, the capital of the Chimus. The valley was a farmland area irrigated by a network of channels built by its former inhabitants.
With the fortunes obtained from the cereal (wheat) and sugar cane crops they had introduced to the surrounding area, the Spaniards soon built mansions with artistic gratings, bright courtyards, rooms with finely carved furniture and repose leather chests. They also built churches with gold leaf altars and numerous convents and royal schools. When the independence wars broke out and the Republic was inaugurated (1821), the patriotic cause was upheld by the aristocracy. They became national leaders, but continued with their stately cult of a luxurious life.
Chan Chan Ruins
Chan Chan is the heart of the Chimu State , the walls were built of sun-dried adobe. It is considered the largest mud city of ancient times. Chan Chan includes nine walled units connected by complicated passages, each of which has been given the name of an archaeologist or renowned person. Best restored is the Citadela Tschudi (the name of a Swiss linguist and naturalist), where there is a team of trained guides ready to help visitors. It has also been suggested (Moseley 1969) that each of these architectural units, called palaces, were built by the several Kings of the Tacaynamo dynasty which governed the city before the arrival of the Incas. Each of them might have lived there with his concubines, court and priests and on his death the palace was sealed off with all these people, making the building a huge cataphalque.
This immense complex is provided with water reservoirs formed by rows of stones and wells, farmlands, defense structures located on the Northern and Southern borders of the city. It also has silos to store grain, streets, squares and terraces at different levels, and platforms in the form of truncated pyramids with cellular constructions to be entered by side ramps, courtyards, etc. forming true labyrinths.
Tradition and Modern Times
Trujillo is a pleasant and hospitable city with bustling streets full of small establishments. Its atmosphere stems from its fine colonial mansions and old churches, its gentle and warm climate open the spirit of its people and its cuisine.
Since the 50's the urban web of the city began to become more complex as a result of faster demographic growth, migrations, non traditional industries banks and shopping malls. New lower class districts and residential quarters emerged, many informal shops appeared and the shoe industry flourished. In the countryside, new crops of high international demand, such as asparagus, are now cultivated side by side with the traditional crops.