Fodor's Expert Review Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol

Trujillo Archaeological Site/Ruins Fodor's Choice

Stark and strange beneath the ash-gray hill that towers over them, these astonishing Moche pyramids were the scenes of bloody human sacrifices. Their exteriors may have eroded, but inside archaeologists have uncovered sinister octopus-shaped reliefs of the great Moche god Ai-Apaec, as well as evidence of a cataclysmic El Niño sequence that effectively destroyed Moche civilization.

The Huacas of the Sun and Moon are located some 10 km (6 miles) outside Trujillo, near the Río Moche. The former is the bigger of the two, but it's not open to the public due to its decayed state. (Built up of 130 million adobe bricks in eight continually expanding stages, its treasures were literally cleaned out of it in 1610, when the Spanish diverted the Río Moche to wash the imperial gold and silver from its innards.) The Huaca of the Moon is awesome in its own right, with numerous exterior and interior walls blazoned with bizarre mythological reliefs. These include spider-like creatures, warriors,... READ MORE

Stark and strange beneath the ash-gray hill that towers over them, these astonishing Moche pyramids were the scenes of bloody human sacrifices. Their exteriors may have eroded, but inside archaeologists have uncovered sinister octopus-shaped reliefs of the great Moche god Ai-Apaec, as well as evidence of a cataclysmic El Niño sequence that effectively destroyed Moche civilization.

The Huacas of the Sun and Moon are located some 10 km (6 miles) outside Trujillo, near the Río Moche. The former is the bigger of the two, but it's not open to the public due to its decayed state. (Built up of 130 million adobe bricks in eight continually expanding stages, its treasures were literally cleaned out of it in 1610, when the Spanish diverted the Río Moche to wash the imperial gold and silver from its innards.) The Huaca of the Moon is awesome in its own right, with numerous exterior and interior walls blazoned with bizarre mythological reliefs. These include spider-like creatures, warriors, and the scowling face of Ai-Apaec, the ferocious god to whom captives were sacrificed at the pyramid's base. These sacrifices probably occurred to propitiate the gods of the weather, but alas, it didn't work. A series of violent El Niño events around the year 600 brought drought and sandstorms, eventually ending the Moche civilization.

When you visit the Huaca de la Luna, you'll start from the top, near the sacrificial altars, and work your way down through the inner galleries to the murals at the base. This was where archaeologists discovered bones of the Moches' victims in recent decades. Be sure to allot time for the excellent museum, which includes exhibits of Moche artwork and informative discussions of the culture's history and religion.

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Archaeological Site/Ruins Fodor's Choice Museum/Gallery

Quick Facts

Av. Santa Rosa, off Panamericana Norte
Trujillo, La Libertad  Peru

044-221–269

huacasdemoche.pe

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: S/10; S/3 for the museum, S/10; S/5 for museum

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