Trujillo, Peru - Encyclopedia

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TRUJILLO, or TRUXILLO, a city of northern Peru, the see of a bishopric, and capital of the department of Libertad, about 315 m. N.N.W. of Lima and 1z m. from the Pacific coast, in lat. 8° 7' S., long. 79° 9' W. Pop. (1906, estimate), about 6500. The city stands on the arid, sandy plain (Mansiche, or Chimu), which skirts the coast from Paita south to Santa, a few miles north of the Moche or Chimu river, and at the northern entrance to the celebrated Chimu Valley. North and east are the ruins of an old Indian city commonly known as the Grand Chimu, together with extensive aqueducts and reservoirs. The city is partly enclosed by an old adobe wall built in 1686, and its buildings are in great part also constructed of adobe. The public institutions include a university, two national colleges, one of which is for girls, an episcopal seminary, a hospital and a theatre.

Trujillo was once an important commercial centre and the metropolis of northern Peru, but the short railways running inland from various ports have taken away its commercial importance. The port of Salaverry (with which Trujillo is connected by rail) is about io m. south-east, where the national government has constructed a long iron pier. Railways also extend northward to Ascope and eastward to Laredo, Galindo and Menocucho, and a short line runs from Roma, on the Ascope extension, to the port of Huanchaco. The only important manufactures of Trujillo are cigars and cigarettes.

Trujillo was founded in 1535, by Francisco Pizarro, who gave it the name of his native city in Spain. Its position on the road from Tumbez to Lima gave it considerable political and commercial importance, and some reflection of that colonial distinction still remains. It suffered little in the War of Independence, but was occupied and plundered by the Chileans in 1882.

Of the ancient aboriginal city, or group of towns, whose ruins and burial-places cover the plain on every side of Trujillo, comparatively little is definitely known. The extent of these ruins, which cover an area 12 to 15 m. long by 5 to 6 m. wide, demonstrate that it was much the largest Indian city on the southern continent. The principal ruins are 4 m. north of Trujillo, but others lie more to the eastward and still others southward of the banks of the Moche. The great aqueduct, which brought water to the several large reservoirs of the city, was 14 m. long and in some places in crossing the Chimu Valley it had an elevation of 60 ft.

The name of Grand Chimu is usually given to the ruined city, this being the title applied to the chief of the people, who were called the Chimu, or Yuncas. They were a race wholly distinct from the Incas, by whom they were finally conquered. They spoke a different language and had developed an altogether different civilization, and it is not unreasonable to presume that they were related to some earlier race of southern Mexico. Specimens of skilfully wrought ornaments of gold and silver, artistically made pottery, and finely woven fabrics of cotton and wool (alpaca), have been found in their huacas, or burial-places. Bronze was known to them, and from it tools and weapons were made. Their extensive irrigation works show that they were painstaking agriculturists, and that they were successful ones may be assumed from the size of the population maintained in so arid a region. Since the Spanish conquest their huacas have been opened and rifled, and many of the larger masses of ruins have been extensively mined in search of treasure, but enough still remains to impress upon the observer the magnitude of the city and the genius of the people who built it. Nothing is known of their history or of their political institutions, but these remains of their handiwork bear eloquent testimony that they had reached a degree of development in some respects higher even than that of the Incas.

See E. G. Squier, Peru (New York, 1877); and Charles Wiener, Perou et Bolivie (Paris, 1882).

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