Machu Picchu Travel

Huaca del Sol & Huaca de la Luna

Huaca del Sol & Huaca de la Luna

Hidden in the vast Moche Valley in northern Peru lie two outstanding pre-Inca structures that extend over 60 hectares. Two constructions that represented the political and religious power of the Moche culture, the greatest civilization of Trujillo.

If you’ve been following our Trujillo travel guide, you surely have read about the powerful Moche people, a culture that originated in the 1st century but mysteriously disappeared around the IX century.

The Moche are one of the most important civilizations in the history of Peru, characterized for their cultural expression, adobe architecture, as well as metallurgical and pottery works. Besides, they were pioneers in hydraulic engineering, managing to solve water drought in the aridest parts of their territory.

The Huaca of the Sun and the Moon are certainly the most impressive structures ever built by the Moche, highlighted by the beautiful artwork on its walls and their massive extension.

The site was discovered about 28 years ago, which is why there’s still so much to know and to uncover about these ancient pyramids. However, here we have gathered everything we know so far about Huaca del Sol y Huaca de la Luna.

Huaca del Sol - Moche Administrative Center

It is the largest temple in the archaeological complex since it is composed of 5 terraces and has a height of 45 meters, presumably the tallest pre-Columbian structure in Peru and maybe Latin America.

Unfortunately, there is not much information about this site since it was severely destroyed by the Spaniards during the colonization process. The conquerors managed to change the river course with the purpose of splitting the site in half but ended up taking a third part of the Huaca.

It is estimated that over 130 million adobe bricks were used in the construction of this administrative center. However, no treasures were found on the site though not much archaeological work has been done due to lack of budget.

Huaca de la Luna - Ceremonial Center

It is the most important ‘Huaca’ within the archaeological complex since it holds the cultural expression of the Moche in its interior. The site is composed of several overlapping temples, each constructed in different periods.

It is known that the Huaca de la Luna was a worship place but it also covers a gloomy past since the remains of 40 sacrificed warriors were found in its interior.

According to historians, the Moche used to have these types of ‘fight’ ceremonies, where the loser would be slaughtered and their head would be offered to Ai Apaec (The Headsman).

Huaca de la Luna holds a variety of murals, painted with white, black, red, blue and yellow colors, which were obtained by different minerals. These paintings would depict their main deity ‘The Headsman’ and some other customs of this ancient society.

The facade is decorated with relief figures that represent condors, foxes with trophy heads, fishermen, snakes, crabs and priests. Each figure is related to the water cult and agricultural fertility.

Who Were the Moche?

The Moche culture is one of the most important societies of ancient Peru. Their empire spread across the Peruvian coast between the II and V centuries.

The Moche people were recognized for having developed an extensive agricultural and engineering knowledge but also for being the best metallurgists of their time in America.

They are also considered the greatest potters of ancient Peru, thanks to their fine and well-crafted work. They used to represent men, animals, deities and ceremonial activities in paintings and sculptures with a distinctive expressiveness and realism.

The society was also known for being great sailors since they constructed ‘Caballitos de Totora’ a totora reed boat used for fishermen during that time but also to navigate to Ecuadorian coasts.

The Moche had a hierarchical political system, they were organized into confederate kingdoms or lordships, a fact that was discovered thanks to the findings of the untouched tombs of Lord of Sipan and Cao’s Lady.

How to Visit?

The Huacas of the Sun and the Moon are located 8 hours away from Lima, but only 25 minutes away from Trujillo. You can combine the visit to this archeological site with a visit to Huaca Arcoiris, the Chan Chan Museum and the Tschudi Palace.

Luckily for you, we have structured the best trujillo itinerary so you can experience everything at its fullest. If you’d like to add this attraction to your travel itinerary, make sure to contact our team while you’re here!

Would you like to uncover the mysteries of Peru? Check our travel packages and start planning the trip of your life while you’re here. Our travel specialists can help you organize the best trip itinerary while optimizing your time and experience according to your interests!