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Trujillo History

The city of Trujillo, 563 kilometers (350 mi) north of Peru, has been a thriving metropolis as long as people have lived there—and that is a long time, going back millenniums.

The fertile earth of the Río Moche valley, a linear oasis running north-south in the arid regions in northern Peru, served as the cradle of many early civilizations, most notably the Moche (pronounced Moh-Chey), who not only grew crops but also developed fishing in the service of cultivating a strong economy that led to the rise of one of the largest empires, from 200 BC and 700 AC, before the rise of the Chimus, and later the Incas.

The Moche became expert craftsman, excelling in ceramics (offering detailed depictions of all facets of daily life, including some of the most sexually explicit figures in the western hemisphere), textiles and metallurgy. The large pyramids in the centers of their towns were tributes to their gods, but today serve as tributes to the Moche aptitude in building and design. Now their legacy lies in their historical ruins, some of the biggest and most detailed in all of Latin America.

The Spanish arrived in 1534, and Diego de Almagro named it “Villa Trujillo” after Trujillo in Extremadura in Spain, birthplace of Francisco Pizarro. Three years later, Charles I of Spain officially designated Trujillo a city. Its coat of arms claims Trujillo as “Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera,” City of Eternal Spring, and from there, Trujillo became a major trading and commerce port.

Indeed, its success was such that in 1685, a wall was constructed along the city perimeter to curb pirate raids on Trujillo. The enclosed sections of Trujillo are now a historic colonial center, featuring elegant classic houses, churches and public squares.

Trujillo is now the second largest city in Peru population-wise, home of the famous Marinera dance, which combines European and indigenous styles, and is the taking off point for Peru's largest crop export, asparagus. Trujillo has a reputation of being a cleaner city than Lima, and the charm of its colonial heritage is enhanced by its proximity to such archaeological wonders such as the ancient mud-brick city of Chan Chan and the Huaca del Sol pyramid.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Trujillo: Chan Chan: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom,

By Ricardo Segreda
Growing up in New York, Rick Segreda used to cut out of high school in order to hang out at the Museum of Modern Art and catch foreign-language...
25 Apr 2012

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