Trujillo, Perú


Trujillo, Perú and was founded in 1534. The name given at the founding was "Trujillo de Nueva Castilla" but that changed to "Villa de Trujillo" in 1535, then in 1537 it became "City of Trujillo". At any rate, Trujillo is a large city with a bit over 1 million people. In fact, it is the third largest in Perú. This area has been populated for centuries, with known civilizations dating back to around 100BC.

The Moche people lived in this area from around 100BC to about 700AD. That early empire developed extensive irrigation systems showing a great understanding of hydraulic engineering. They also used copper for weapons, tools, and ornaments. The Chimú empire followed from around 1000 to about 1200. Their main center was Chan Chan, which is only a couple of kilometers from the Trujillo city center. There are extensive remains in that archeological site. It is estimated that the population of Chan Chan was around 100,000 at its prime. There are a couple of other archiological site nearby as well.

Then we skip forward to the early 1500s with the arrival of the Spaniards. By 1540 the city had become home to many of the richest people as well as some nobles. The economy grew rapidly from agricultural activities that included the cultivation of sugar cane, wheat and other grains, and livestock. In 1619, Trujillo experienced a big earthquake that resulted in the deaths of about 350 people and the destruction of most of the city. Also, a tsunami destroyed all the ships and boats. Because of this many people wanted to relocate the city and so left for Santa Catalina Valley, about 10 kilometers north of Trujillo. But the relocation never happened because the clergy refused to leave their churches. That then led to many years of reconstruction of the city and updating of the churches architectural styles. Between 1647 - 1666 the Cathedral Basílica of Santa María was built. That is still the main center of town church at the Plaza de Armas. The city was making great progress until the end of the 17th century, until droughts and plagues accured which caused an economic crisis. Eventually, the city started to recover, again. In 1784 the Municipality of Trujillo was created, expanding the influence of the city to almost all of northern Perú. Throughout the 1700s, Trujillo experienced two more big earthquakes and four devistating floods.

Trujillo was the first Peruvian city to complete the process of independence from Spain which took place between December 24, 1820 and January 6, 1821. On December 24, 1820, through an open town hall, the people unanimously agreed to proclaim independence. This was when the flag of Peru was made and displayed with an honor guard on the night of December 28, 1820. On December 29, 1820, at the headquarters of the council, the act of independence of Trujillo was signed. Later, before an open town hall meeting in the Plaza de Armas of the city, José Bernardo de Tagle spoke these words:
"My people. We have just proclaimed and sworn the independence of Trujillo. From this moment and by the unanimous will of the people, Trujillo is free... I place our destiny and that of the people under the protection of heaven. Long live the country! Live the independence!"
Because of this, the independence of Trujillo was proclaimed, they then proceeded to lower the Spanish flag and raise the flag of Peru for the first time. On January 6, 1821, the city council proceeded to swear independence and sign the Oath Act that is preserved in the Regional Archive of La Libertad. But, of course, the Spanish loyalists weren't bery happy about that, so they attacked the seat of government in Lima. In June 1823 the President moved the government to Trujillo where it stayed until things cooled down, which was August of 1823. Throught the mid-1800s, Trujillo avoided the conflicts in Lima and grew and became a leading commerce center. The early 1900s saw many projects to update and beautify the city.

In November 2010, Trujillo was the first city in Latin America and the Caribbean to be chosen by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop the pilot project "Trujillo: Sustainable City." The plan conceives Trujillo from other perspectives including fiscal and economic-financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, and quality of life. Since 2011, the IDB has been developing the relevant projects in coordination with the city's Municipality.

The city's economy is based on commerce, agriculture, and industry. Two of the main exports are artichokes and asparagus. In fact, Perú is the biggest exporter of asparagus in the world.

The climate is called a warm dry desert climate. The average daytime high is 22° C (72° F) and the average nightly low is 17° C (63° F). Trujillo gets 4mm (.16 inch) of rain per year, and yes, that is actually 4 millimeters for the entire year. Humidity ranges from 88%-90% year-round. Thankfully the temperature is not terribly high.

In the 17th century, the city built a wall around the city to protect it from pirate attacks as had happened to other coastal towns during those years. Then in the late 19th century the wall was torn down, but one short section of less than 100 meters was left standing. That bit is still standing and looks like any other wall except it is quite thick. And there is a replicate portal built that replaces one of the five portals into the city. The historic center is loaded with very old buildings some date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The center plaza, the Plaza de Armas, is where the city was founded in 1534 and the proclamation of independence from Spain took place in 1820. There are also at least seven churches that also date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. And there are five archeological sites within a few kilometers of the city center. One of those sites is a World Heritage Site called Chan Chan. I walked out to it, about 4 or 5 kilometers from my hostal. The museum was interesting, then I walked out to the actual ancient city site. That place was a city, as big as cities today. Check out the photos in my photo album. After going through the main palace part of the city I walked out to another walled area which I expected was closed to the public, but I found one entry where somebody had knocked out the temporary blocks, so I scrambled over them and went into the site. That entry also happened to have hornets, and I got stung by one on my shoulder. Inside, there are remnants of walls of all sizes inside. Finding another way out was literally making my way through a maze. I finally got to the exterior wall and walked all the way around two sides, but that direction was a dead end, so I backtracked and found an opening to yet another exterior wall. As I walked along it and around a corner I found a door so I was able to get out on the opposite side from where I had entered. Today I walked 22.86 kilometers and the Strava app crashed and didn't record a couple of kilometers.

Trujillo is a large city with more than one million people. The city is generally clean but has the typical traffic problems found in any big city. There are many parks here and they are actively maintained. The climate is quite nice and the city has the nickname "city of eternal spring". It's definitely a place to visit if you happen to be visiting Perú.