About The Moche Temples
The Moche Temples in Peru are made up of Huaca del Sol y la Luna, translated as the Temples of the Sun and the Moon.
History of the Moche Temples
The Moche Empire was a pre-Inca civilisation, which lasted from roughly 100 to 900 AD: it was centred at the Huacas del Moche (Moche Temples), near the mouth of the Moche River Valley. The complex of huacas was thought to have been built in 500 AD.
The Moche Temples are located in northern Peru and, like many Moche sites, are adorned with various colourful friezes of different shapes and ominous figures. They were built of adobe bricks and would have been constructed over the course of many years, each generation adding further levels. Friezes and ceramics found at the respective sites detail a range of Moche customs, including religious rituals involving human sacrifice and their relationships with their gods. These would have originally been brightly coloured: it’s thought religious leaders took hallucinogenic substances, which explains why some of the images are so vivid and surreal.
The site was occupied for a relatively short period of time: extreme climate events including prolonged flooding and subsequent droughts meant that the Moche relocated north. The larger Huaca del Sol was looted by the conquistadors in the 16th century: they diverted the nearby river to run past the base of the pyramid in order to more easily access materials.
The huacas were opened up again in the 1990s by archaeologists, and only
While Huaca del Sol is the smaller of the two Moche Temples, it is better preserved than Huaca de la Luna.
The Moche Temples today
The site is far from developed – it’s still a work in progress but there is now signage and interpretation. The Museo Huacas del Moche is a short walk away, and houses much of what was excavated from the site. It’s well worth paying the museum a visit.
Bear in mind most of the signage is in Spanish: English-speaking guides lurk at the taquilla (ticket booth), and it’s worth hiring one if no-one in your group speaks Spanish as Moche civilization is fascinating to learn about.
Getting to the Moche Temples
Today, the city of Trujillo is about 3km away. Local buses or combis will be able to drop you there easily: head to the south east of Trujillo to find one heading in the right direction. For a comfier journey, hire a taxi, or if you fancy stretching your legs, it’s about a 6km site from the centro historico of Trujillo.