Moche Temples of the Sun and the Moon
Trujillo Travel Blog› entry 28 of 30 › view all entries
Few people know, with the Inca glory overshadowing everything, that Peru was inhabited for many centuries before the Incas arrived. You only truly realize this when you travel around Peru and notice that every region has its own local history of centuries and its local archeological sites of long lost civilizations. Some of these sights are beyond doubt impressive, we had already seen the ruins of the Wari in Ayacucho and of the Lima in Lima and unfortunately we had missed Tiahuanaco in Bolivia and not to mention the Nazca lines, but perhaps the most impressive are to be found in the north.
Northern Peru was not on our itinerary
because all the interesting stuff seemed to be in the south, and Peru is just
so damn big, but we had a few loose days in our schedule and it seemed fun to visit
Trujillo just before our plane would take us home again.
Trujillo is way up in the north, about 8 hours from Lima, and a world
of difference compared to Arequipa. They are both big cities, Arequipa and
Trujillo being the second and third cities of Peru. In Trujillo we mainly saw
the typical lowland latino Peruvian and noboby was wearing any hats or fancy
dresses. There were no Andean faces here, while Arequipa on the other hand lies
in the Andes. Arequipa is a very white city of white stone and highrise stately
buildings in a clear mountain sky, while Trujillo is a very lowrise, flat city
under a misty sky, but extraordinarily colored. Every facade, every church and
office is painted in bright colors, perhaps to counter the sky.
is also less interesting than Arequipa. Not many tourists come here (sometimes
we told a taxi driver we were going to Trujillo and they always reacted pleasantly
surprised). But there are a few high quality tourist sights nearby and we were
going to take two full days to visit them.
Huaca de la Luna y Huaca
(Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun)
Trujillo lies in the
valley of the Moche river, which was the cradle of the Moche culture. The Moche
didn’t left much of their presence, besides loads of artwork (they had a high
culture of arts) and two pyramid-temples of striking size that hugged their
capital city. We booked a trip that brought us first to an artisan shop where
people still made Moche art in traditional ovens and then on to the temples.
Huaca del Sol is just plain big but that is all there is to it. It is the
largest pre-columbian adobe structure of the Americas. It is made of 9 floors
of adobe bricks (130 million of them) and about 50 m high. Over a hundred
different communities gave bricks, to construct a massive monster of a pyramid
comparable in size with the Egyptian ones. It was a royal pyramid and probably
a burial chamber.
Huaca de la Luna is much more interesting. This was a pyramid for the Moche priest. Every new priest would built a new place on top of the old one and fill the former with bricks. Then decorate the walls with pictures and occasionally walk off a ramp down to the people. Archeologists have removed the bricks of a few floors, so it is possible to look down into the pyramid and see the decorated walls a few levels deep. The back side of the pyramid is completely covered with decoration and an amazing sight! There are people and animals depicted in long rows and in color. The whole thing is built in front of a low, pointy mountain that they called the White Mountain because in the moonlight, white streaks are visible on it.