Chiclayo Introduction, History, Info & Tips

Introduction

Peru’s fourth largest city, Chiclayo is the capital of the Lambayeque region located on the northern coastal plain of Peru. It is 95 feet above sea level. As of 2005, the city population was approximately 546,054 inhabitants, with the surrounding metropolitan area being 910,255 persons.

A sunny and warm climate with fresh ocean breezes embraces a geography including impressive mountains and expansive beautiful beaches with spectacular waves, (quite popular with surfers).

It is a land of legendary ancient civilizations and a wealthy colonial society reflected in its majestic and traditional constructions…

Chiclayo Region streamThe city of Chiclayo is well known for its beautiful colonial architecture, delicious seafood specialties, and natural medicines, although it is the surrounding area’s impressive archeological sites and ruins which undoubtedly brings the most tourism interest.

History

Chiclayo was founded in 1560 as a rural Indian village by a Spanish priest. Until the 19th century, Chiclayo remained a small town in comparison to the nearby city of Lambayeque. Since then, however, the city of Chiclayo has grown into a major modern metropolis.

The Lambayeque region of Peru, in which Chiclayo lies on the coast, gave rise to the great Mochica culture from 0-600 AD. Legend has it that the god Naylamp sailed here together with a vast retinue thousands of years ago to found his empire.

In fact, many ancient civilizations saw the strategic advantage of controlling this region, which today is a major business hub in northern Peru, where trading routes come together from the coast, highlands and jungle.

Archaeology

Chiclayo and other towns in northern Peru are centres of witchcraft and well known for their archaeological sites, such as Túcume, Batán Grande and Huaca Rajada. In 1987, in Huaca Rajada (more often referred to as Sipán), an exceptional Moche mausoleum was found.

In fact, a total of four tombs have been found in Sipan’s Huaca Rajada. The huaca is a mausoleum built by the Moche culture that ruled the northern coast of Peru from the time of Christ to 700 AD, centuries prior to the Incas.

The Lord of Sipan

The most significant archeological discovery in the region was the tomb of the Señor de Sipán, discovered close to the coast, in the middle of Lambayeque Valley, just 35 kms. east of Chiclayo. Sipan tomb in PeruThe Señor de Sipán, or “Lord of Sipan” wore funeral clothes adorned with gold, silver and jewels.

Dubbed “The Golden Wonder” by Times magazine, National Geographic published an article named “Discovering the Richest Tomb in the New World” in its 1988 edition. The amount of treasure found in the tomb rivals that found in the tomb of King Tut.

Still shrouded in mystery, archaeologists have ascertained that the Lord of Sipan was a royal ruler 1600 years ago and that he was about 30 to 40 years old when he died, however, his precise identity and cause of death remain unknown.

For those interested, the priceless funeral artifacts unearthed from the tomb can be viewed at the Brüning Museum in Lambayeque,11km (87 miles) north of Chiclayo, whose Gold Room houses one of the finest collections of gold relics in the Americas.

In summary, these discoveries at Sipan represent, without a doubt, one of the most important archaeological findings of recent times, and the collection has traveled throughout the world in a series of impressive expos in Europe, the USA and Japan.

Other Archeological Sites

While Sipan is indeed impressive, there are other archeological attractions in the area as well…

One major complex worth exploring is that of Túcume, also known as the Valley of the Pyramids, as there are 26 of them. There, visitors can take in remarkable archaeological sites and the natural landscape, as well as experiencing folk healing and other aspects of the fascinating culture and history that permeates the area. The preservation of the area’s natural and cultural heritage can be directly attributed to the active participation of the community.

Agriculture/Economy

The main agricultural products of the area are rice, sugar cane and cotton, which are grown in the many fertile valleys that surround the urban areas. Until Peru’s economic decline in 1976, the port of Pimentel served as Chiclayo’s main export line; sugar refined in Pomalca passed through Chiclayo by train and was exported to various destinations along the Pacific Rim. With the socialization of agriculture and subsequent demise of the Peruvian economy, however, Chiclayo ceased to export by sea- due in part to the shutting down of the regions only two railroads in 1975 because of their inability to compete with transport using paved roads.

Although the economy suffered for a while in the late 70’s, all economic prosperity was not lost to the region… As fate (and technology) would have it, the same road that took away the railroad (and export) business, the Panamerican Highway constructed in the 1920s, began to play a new key role in filling the export gap of the region due to its easy access and connections between the mountain passes that allow access to the jungle and the sugar cooperatives of the valleys.