Temples of Moche (Huacas del Sol y de la Luna)
The first pyramid, Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), soars nearly 66 feet) 20 meters into the air, a height all the more impressive considering that before the heavy rains of El Niño and the Spaniards diversion of the Moche River, the temple stood nearly two-third more grand. As legend has it, some 250,000 men positioned 140 million adobe bricks into place to make the pyramid. In a state of disrepair and without the benefits of a completed excavation, visitors are asked not to trample on the staircases and platforms, though many do.
For a better (and more safe) viewpoint, climb up its neighbor, Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon). Though smaller than the temple devoted to the sun, the moon pyramid is better preserved, and therefore has better infrastructure and displays of some of the artifacts found during the excavations, which are still ongoing. Huaca de Luna was most likely a site of human sacrifice, and unearthed remains suggest torture.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Suitable for solo travelers, couples, families; archaeology and history buffs especially.
- Bring sun protection and water hydration for the desert climate.
- Be sure not to take care walking through the complex and not to touch the structures, as they are very fragile.
- Wear comfortable shoes as there might be quite a bit of walking.
- Admission to the museum is about $4 and includes an English-speaking guide.
- Temperatures in the summer months (January - March) can reach upwards of 85 F (29 C) inside.
- Adjoining the temple is axa0small museum, selling gifts, ceramics, and more information on the ancient Moche culture.
How to Get There
About 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Trujillo in the desert Valle de Moche at the foot of Cerro Blanco. The easiest way to arrive at the complex is as part of a tour, or to take an inexpensive taxi to the site. If taking public transport, catch the yellow "Campiña de Moche" colectivo (S/2) on Suárez in Trujillo, several blocks northeast of the Plaza de Armas. In high season, frequent buses and taxis will be awaiting to return travelers to Trujillo.
When to Get There
Temples of Moche are open year-round, Monday - Sunday, 9:00am - 4:00pm. Come early to beat the crowds. Trujillo enjoys a subtropical desert climate, with a warm season (January to March), and a cooler season (June to November.). Trujillo International Spring Festival takes place late September. One of Peru’s largest and most popular festivals, with horse shows, fashion shows, dance contests, and floats of flowers and beauty contestants.
The Demon of the Temple of the Moon
Hard to miss in this temple are the many, remarkable depictions of the terrifying anthropomorphic demon deity Ai-Paek, whose snarling face and animated teeth are found on everything from ceramics to polychromatic (in bright yellow, red, white, and black) frescoes. Also known as El Degollador (the decapitator), the god seemed to have the hair of the sea and eyes of an owl. For a break from the scary demon, cimb to the top for fabulous views of the Huaca del Sol and the surrounding countryside.