Most of the shore excursion options in Trujillo revolve around exploring some of the 2,000 archaeological sites in the river valley nearby. The ancient Chimu capital of Chan Chan is near Trujillo and the most famous site. The Chimu, who preceded the Incas and were later conquered by them, built Chan Chan about 1300 A.D. At 28 square kilometers, it is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest mud city in the world. At one time, Chan Chan had over 60,000 inhabitants and was a very rich city with a vast wealth of gold, silver, and ceramics. After the Incas conquered the Chimu, the city remained untouched until the Spanish came. Within a few decades of the conquistadors, most of the treasures of Chan Chan were gone, either taken by the Spanish or by looters. Visitors today are amazed primary by the size of Chan Chan and by what it must have once looked like.
Another archaeological site that is very interesting are the Temples to the Sun and Moon (Huacas del Sol y de la Luna). The Mochicas built them during the Moche period, over 700 years before the Chimu civilization and Chan Chan. These two temples are pyramidal and about 500 meters apart. The Huaca de la Luna has over 50 million adobe bricks, and the Huaca del Sol is the largest mud structure on the continent. The desert climate has enabled these mud structures to last for hundreds of years.
For those who love colonial architecture and design, the city of Trujillo is an interesting place to spend the day. Trujillo sits on the edge of the Andean foothills and has a beautiful setting amongst the vast greenery and brown hills. Like most Peruvian cities, the Plaza de Armas is surrounded by the cathedral and city hall. Numerous colonial mansions have been preserved in the old city and are open to visitors. The fronts of many of these buildings have distinctive wrought-iron grillwork and are painted in pastel colors.