The Temples of the Sun and the Moon, Trujillo, Peru

Near the modern city of Trujillo in Northern Peru, a pair of awe-inspiring pyramids rise from the dry coastal desert.

The Huacas del Sol y de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and the Moon) were constructed from millions handmade adobe bricks, by the Moche people between about 200 and 850 AD. Successive generations added new platforms on top of the existing structures, such that each one grew higher and higher.

The Huaca del Sol (left) and Huaca de la Luna (right, beneath the Cerro Blanco hill)

The Huaca del Sol (left) and Huaca de la Luna (right, beneath the Cerro Blanco hill)

These massive monuments, and the now-buried remains of the city that lies between them, formed the capital of the Moche culture for hundreds of years.

Huaca del Sol from Huaca de la Luna, with the partially excavated Moche city in between

Huaca del Sol from Huaca de la Luna, with the partially excavated Moche city in between

The Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), also known as the Capuxaida, is believed to be the largest adobe building in the Americas, comprising approximately 140 million mud bricks. Despite its name, it’s actually thought to have had a more political and administrative function.

Huaca del Sol

Huaca del Sol

Archaeologists estimate it was originally over 1130 feet long, 525 feet wide and 100 feet high. Sadly, a large proportion of the structure was destroyed by colonial treasure hunters in the 17th Century. That said, it remains a massive monument.

It's easy to see the layering within what's left of the Huaca del Sol

It’s easy to see the layering within what’s left of the Huaca del Sol

The Huaca de la Lune (Temple of the Moon) is in truth a complex of buildings, consisting of three main pyramidal platforms and four large plazas.

Huaca de la Luna, at the foot of Cerro Blanco

Huaca de la Luna, at the foot of Cerro Blanco

The Huaca de la Luna towers above the surrounding desert

The Huaca de la Luna towers above the surrounding desert

Unlike its slightly larger neighbour, the Huaca de la Luna is most definitely a ceremonial and religious structure. It includes religious designs and has several altars, some of which were used for human sacrifice.

Cerro Blanco from inside Huaca de la Luna

Cerro Blanco from inside Huaca de la Luna

IMG_2801IMG_2802Many of the bricks used in construction of the temple have marks on them, possibly indicating their makers.

Some of the 'trademarks' found on the bricks of Huaca de la Luna

Some of the ‘trademarks’ found on the bricks of Huaca de la Luna

IMG_2816IMG_2817In many places the brick walls were coated with mud, upon which artists created relief designs. The designs were strictly controlled by the Moche priests.

IMG_2803

Corner enclosure

Corner enclosure

Clear evidence of one structure being superseded by another

Clear evidence of one structure being superseded by another

One of the things that most surprised me most were the vivid colours with which these designs are painted.

IMG_2805

Aiapaec the Decapitator, the chief god of the Moche

Aiapaec the Decapitator, the chief god of the Moche

All the colours used at Huaca de la Luna came from natural sources. The pigments are all water soluble, and would not have survived if the climate were not so dry.

The North Façade of the North Ceremonial Plaza (note the massive ramp on the left)

The North Façade of the North Ceremonial Plaza (note the massive ramp on the left)

The North Facade is split into seven distinct layers of decoration...

The North Façade is split into seven distinct layers of decoration…

...From bottom to top: (1) Warriors leading Prisoners; (2) Presenters of Offerings; (3) the Spider Decapitator (ugh!); (4) the Sea Twin or Marine Deity; (5) Mythic Being carrying a severed head (again ugh!); (6) on the right is Aiapaec’s head with the legs of a bird and on the left a huge Serpent which extends from the Great Ramp; and finally (7) God of the Mountains aka the Beheader (there seems to be a lot of that going around!)

…From bottom to top: (1) Warriors leading Prisoners; (2) Presenters of Offerings; (3) the Spider Decapitator (ugh!); (4) the Sea Twin or Marine Deity; (5) Mythic Being carrying a severed head (again ugh!); (6) on the right is Aiapaec’s head with the legs of a bird and on the left a huge Serpent which extends from the Great Ramp; and finally (7) God of the Mountains aka the Beheader (there seems to be a lot of that going around!)

Corner where Great Ramp meets the North Façade

Corner where Great Ramp meets the North Façade

The Great Ramp

The Great Ramp attaches to the North Façade between the Lunar Being and the God of the Mountains

This post was inspired by the photo themes Handmade from Ailsa (Where’s My Backpack?), Vivid from Lignum Draco (Daily Post) and Dry from Jennifer (Jennifer Nichole Wells).

The most complex and best preserved Moche mural known to date is located near the northeast corner of the North Ceremonial Plaza, where the Great Ramp joins the North Façade

The most complex and best preserved Moche mural known to date is located near the northeast corner of the North Ceremonial Plaza, where the Great Ramp joins the North Façade

Thanks to Lina of TrujilloDelPeru.Com for guiding us through the marvels of the Temples of the Sun and the Moon.

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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9 Responses to The Temples of the Sun and the Moon, Trujillo, Peru

  1. jpeggytaylor says:

    A fascinating, though gruesome, trip! What an amazing place – I too was struck by just how well preserved the colours were on the walls of these ancient buildings.

  2. Pingback: Travel Theme-Handmade | WoollyMuses

  3. So so stunning. Thank you for sharing these.

  4. Pingback: One Word Photo Challenge: Wet | Jennifer Nichole Wells

  5. quarksire says:

    way cool what a city that was i didn’t get that far north but very aweome share here……love the shots what a culture they had back then 😎

  6. Pingback: Trujillo’s Colonial Heart, Peru | Jaspa's Journal

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