To Spanish conquistadors, the city of Trujillo was one of the most important settlements to be built anywhere in the New World. The city was founded in 1534 by Diego de Almagro, and it would quickly rise to become the capital city of modern-day Northern Peru. For nearly 300 years—up until 1820 when it became Peru’s first city to declare independence from Spain—Trujillo thrived as a Colonial outpost just miles from the desert coastline.
Today, many of Trujillo’s Colonial charms are still accessible to visitors, all of which are located inside Avenida España—the circular road which traces the outline of Trujillo’s ancient city walls. All visits to Colonial Trujillo begin in the Plaza de Armas, the historical center’s bustling square that teems with infectious energy. On one corner, the pastel yellow of the Trujillo Cathedral forms the city’s iconic backdrop, and is twice as enchanting when brightly illuminated against the starry Trujillo sky. On another side of the Plaza de Armas sits the impressive Casa Urquiaga, the house where Simon Bolivar himself helped foment the revolution.
Fanning out from the Plaza de Armas, the trademark architecture of the Colonial era is apparent on every street corner. It’s easily possible to pass a dozen churches while strolling the historic city center, including the enormous El Carmen Church that occupies a city block. Wrought iron balconies and intricate friezes can be found on nearly every building, and the palette of colors—from the deep red walls of Casa Tinoco to the blue of Casa Urquiaga—add a lively zest to the entire city to make it seem anything but old.