A sightseeing tour begins at the Town Square, one of the largest and prettiest in the country. It is surrounded by several well preserved Spanish Colonial mansions, the Cathedral, and the Church of the Company of Christ. The Cathedral was built in 1666 and has an impressive gold plated high altar. Other impressive parts are its Chapel of the Tabernacle, the seats of the choir, and several statues, particularly Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist. Also on its premises is a museum that displays liturgical vestments and ornaments from the city’s bishops as well as valuable paintings from the Quito and Cusco Schools. You should walk the downtown streets and visit some of the other important churches, like Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose high altar is one of the most important works of Churrigueresque art in Peru, San Francisco, and the Company of Christ. There are many fine examples of beautiful and well preserved mansions, but the ones to see are the Bracamonte House, whose windows are traditionally covered with wrought iron bars and its rooms filled with fine furniture, the Ganoza Chopitea House, which has one of the loveliest facades from Peru’s viceroyal period, the Urquiaga House, the Iturregui Palace and the Orbegozo House.MOCHE ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES (CHAN CHAN, PYRAMID OF THE SUN, PYRAMID OF THE MOON)
The two pyramids are located in the lower and middle Moche River Valleys and make up the most influential religious center for the Mochicas. The Pyramid of the Sun is the tallest adobe structure in the Pre-Hispanic Americas: a large, 345 m rectangular building upon which were built several platforms and truncated pyramids, some of which rise 42 m into the sky. Across from it sits the Pyramid of the Moon, the best preserved Mochica ceremonial center. On its interior walls, artisans painted and carved the principal characters that populate their iconography. The most imposing figure is that of their executioner god, Ai Apaec, and there are assorted scenes depicting ritual sacrifices that most likely took place in this temple.
The largest mud city in the world and capital of the Chimu culture is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the city of Trujillo, adjacent to the traditional sea resort of Huanchaco. It covers 20 km2 and is purported to have housed an estimated population of 100,000. Spanish historians from around the time of the Conquest state the city was founded by the descendants of Tacaynamo, the mythical originator of the Chimu. It was subsequently enlarged as new rulers took over, who by custom would shut the former leader’s palaces and build another from where he would govern.
Chan Chan’s walls are made of adobe, and its foundations are stone and earth. The walls are carved in high relief with images of sea birds, fish, and other representative figures from Chimu iconography. Its streets and alleyways are laid out in a maze, opening up into large ceremonial plazas, terraces, and truncated pyramids. Within the confines are water reservoirs, canals, and wachaques or sunken fields. The city is comprised of nine units or palaces in total, each one bearing the name of a famous Peruvian archeologist or scientist, such as Uhle, Tello, or Tshudi. The Tschudi unit is the best preserved and named in honor of Juan Diego Tshudi (1818-1889).
On the right bank of the Chicama River as it runs through the district of Magdalena de Cao is where you find this 4500 year old archeological site that features three large sections: Huaca Prieta, one of Peru’s oldest constructions, El Brujo from the Mochica era, and Cao Viejo, next to an old Catholic church built by the Dominicans that is today in disrepair. This remarkable Mochican site became famous a few years ago due to the discovery of a female ruler, the Lady of Cao. Her mummy lies intact in the Site Museum for the public to come and see. El Brujo and Cao Viejo are decorated with friezes and figures of dancers, prisoners, and warriors, as well as other images from the Mochica pantheon.HUANCHACO
It is a charming beach resort, popular with surfers and linked to the famous handmade canoe-like vessels, the caballitos de totora (little reed horses). You can see them on the beaches, drying in the sun, or watch local fisherman go out to sea each morning skillfully riding these boats. Here, you will eat well and live well under a benevolent sun, with the Pacific Ocean stretching out before you, which from the pier you get great views of. Huanchaco was densely populated during Pre-Hispanic times and an important Chimu city, until the Incas took over. The Spanish arrived in 1534, founded a new city, and built Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Church, one of the country’s oldest, on a hill in the upper part of the town.CHICLAYO AND LAMBAYEQUE
Land of a blessed cuisine, of cultural traditions reflected in dances and handicrafts, and of fishermen’s coves where wooden boats await their turn to go out to sea. Chiclayo is located in a fertile river valley surrounded by a harsh, yet captivating desert and by carob tree forests among whose trees two of the most noteworthy Pre-Hispanic peoples settled several hundred years ago; Chiclayo and Lambayeque are required stops along our narrow coastal region, and even the traveler in the know will definitely run into a surprise or two.
Chiclayo is the capital of the department of Lambayeque, but it is also known as the Capital of Friendship. Its location is between the Zaña and Lambayeque Valleys, thus it is a hub for business and agriculture on the north coast. A large part of the nearby crop fields are set aside for export produce: asparagus, cotton, sugar cane, and paprika, but you will also note the traditional rice paddies. This city is famed for its spicy and delicious food, while also known for housing two of Peru’s main museums.
As for Lambayeque, it is a typical northern city that reached the pinnacle of its development in the 18th century. It is site of the Br?ning Museum and the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum. The San Pedro Cathedral in town has impressive murals and a Baroque high altar, and other important landmarks are the Logia or Montjoy House with the world’s largest enclosed balcony (64 m) and important Colonial churches (Santa Catalina, San Francisco, and San Roque). The city boasts excellent restaurants, too.
The Mochicas built the Sipan Pyramid at the height of their power in the 4th century A.D. and there, in 1987, archeologists discovered the royal tomb of the Señor de Sipan. There is a replica of the exact tomb on site, as well. Other important people were also buried in the same site: a priest and an older ruler called the Old Señor de Sipan. A bit farther north is the place known as Tucume where a group of 26 pyramids are found within a large carob tree forest. This is the capital of the Sican or Lambayeque people, and it was the main urban center during that time period.
The pyramids are built around Purgatory or La Raya Hill, yet the largest, most important one is called Huaca Larga. The town of Tucume is furthermore famous for its shamans.
In 1987, a group of tomb raiders sacked a Mochica tomb within the Sipan archeological complex. After investigating the scene, local police reported this to a team of archeologists that organized a scientific expedition under the leadership of Walter Alva to rescue the grave site in question. What resulted was the most important archeological find in the history of Peru: the tomb of the most important ruler from any of the cultures of ancient Peru. The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum was subsequently built to preserve this priceless heritage, and it opened its doors in 2002. The design follows that of classic Mochican architecture, with the entrance to the museum (shaped like one of the old adobe pyramids) on the third level, which you reach by way of an access ramp.
A visit there starts with a video that discusses the Mochica culture within Peruvian cultural development. Later, you are led to the first level, where both rulers have been laid to rest, and along the way you will see important pieces of jewelry, like a necklace whose gold and silver links are shaped like peanuts, huge chest plates made of tiny spondylus shells and precious gemstones, a number of impeccably preserved pottery pieces like those from the Prayers Group, pieces of fabric overlaid with gilded copper, and many others that were found among the burial paraphernalia.
Peru’s first private conservation area became a reality from the efforts of the photographer and conservation Heinz Plenge. This exceptional protected area covers 37,000 hectares on lands belonging to the Santa Catalina de Chongoyape agricultural community. Its purpose is to conserve dry forests found in the North, a unique ecosystem where different trees like the carob, Jerusalem thorn, guayacan, and hualtaco thrive, having adapted themselves to this arid world. 120 species of birds call these forests home, with the most important ones being the white-winged guan, crowned chat-tyrant, white-tailed jay, long-tailed mockingbird, and the red-masked parakeet.
As part of the conservation efforts, Chaparri has installed a spectacled bear rescue center where it keeps a number of these animals (that have been freed from traveling circuses and fairs) in a state of semi-captivity in order to try to reintroduce them into their natural habitat. There is also an eco-lodge, network of trails that leads visitors to all the secrets of the dry forest, a lovely open air restaurant, bar, and refreshing well of crystalline water. A perfect spot for families and nature lovers.
Welcome to the kingdom of ice, where the sky’s the limit. Located at the foot of the highest tropical mountain range in the world, the Huaylas Valley is cut by the Santa River and where we will find an interesting handful of villages that are a very suitable departure points for the most exciting adventures and ecotourism experiences on the planet.
This region is blessed like no other with endless stone-covered pathways that follow valleys and gorges, snow covered peaks of the most unimaginable shapes, emerald green-colored mountain lakes, golden fields where shepherds have driven their flocks to pasture since before recorded history, and abundant native wildlife, blissfully protected in one of Peru’s most representative national parks: Huascaran.
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