LAMBAYEQUE: BRUNING ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
The reason of going to Chiclayo is actually to visit the archaeological sites, museums and pyramids in the surrounding towns.
Lambayeque has 2 museums to visit.
The Bruning Archaeological Museum is located in modern and it houses artefacts from the Mochica, Lambayeque / Sican, Sipan and Chimu cultures.
I suggest you visit this one first to understand the early cultures of northern Peru in a broader view before you head to the other EXCEPTIONALLY ASTOUNDING museum. In this way, you would not be disappointed with this one, which in a way, is indeed quite a good museum.
See next tip.
Near to Tucume town lie the ruins of a vast city built more than 1,000 years ago.
The entire city is made of adobe. So, at first glance, you think that you are just looking at mere mountains. But mere mountains they are not!!
The pyramids can be reached after a 10-15 minute walk from the town. A short walk up to a mirador on Cerro La Raya will allow you to feast your eyes on a fantastic panoramic view of 26 major pyramids, platforms and compounds.
Walking along these paths, you simply come across many many shards of pottery all over the ground. I guess there are just TOO MANY, so not all are collected and examined by the archaeologists.
Huaca Larga is the longest adobe structure in the world - 700m long and 280m wide and over 30m high. The site was developed in AD 1000-1375 by the Sican or Lambayeque people. The Chimu later conquered them and shortly afterwards, the Incas. The Incas built a structure of stone (their style) from Cerro La Raya, on top of the existing structure of Huaca Larga.
Some of the adobe structures are quite sandy to walk on, so may not be very safe to explore the unmarked paths. Best to stick to the standard trail to the miradors.
FERRENAFE: MUSEO NACIONAl SICAN
The other museum that totally floored me is Museo Nacional Sican.
This new museum was designed to display the objects of the Sican (or Lambayeque) culture from the Batan Grande site.
The displayed artifacts were either the actual ones collected from scientific fieldwork or careful replication using what the archaeologists presume to be the ancient technologies used then.
I had gone into the museum with not much expectation but at one display, I stopped short and gasped. It was a replica of one of the tombs.
The stunning thing was that the lord was buried cross-legged and upside down and in this display, it appeared to be suspended in the air. Below were more sacrificed servants, potteries, jewellery and ornate objects.
Now, what was AMAZING was that if you look carefully, the lord whose face is actually covered with a mask, actually had its head twisted RIGHT-SIDE UP!! Yep, the whole neck of the original skeleton had to be broken in order to twist it this way. Wow!!
The other funny thing was that there were 2 HUGE disembodied arms amongst the burial goods. Pretty eerie.
The other tomb is also interesting, with a masked lord sitting cross-legged but this guy is buried in the right direction in the usual resplendent glory. There are several smaller chambers around him, consisting of 1 or 2 girls or young ladies. Extracting the DNA of these ladies from their teeth showed that they came from only 4 lines of family. Hence, many of these sacrificed girls and ladies were sisters or cousins.
PLAZA DE ARMAS
Chiclayo has a lovely Plaza de Armas, with a huge covered kiosk with a stage where performances and bands play on some special occasions.
Every Sunday morning, there is a parade around the plaza, with the military, police, various associations, dancers in colourful costumes marching with pride. The locals gather around and watch and sing their national anthem with fervour. This was followed by some speech from a mayor or some important character of the town.
I had thought this was some Independence Day or Patron Saint's celebration but seriously, I learnt that they do this every Sunday. Incredible.
In the evenings, there are many many folks gathered around here, to enjoy the evening atmosphere. There are photographers, snack-sellers, lots of families. It is very pleasant indeed.
However, the traffic around here is quite heavy and the Chiclayans drive with their hands on the tooting horns.
AV JOSE BALTA
Avenida Jose Balta must be the main thoroughfare of Chiclayo. The avenue is the place to walk up and down and enjoy the city. There are restaurants, bookstores (pulp and pirated books), watches' shops, etc... everything and everything along this avenue.
In one trip, I had just arrived in Chiclayo from sleepy Ecuador where nearly every shop closed at 7pm and restaurants begin to shut at 8pm. So, on my first night here, I was reminded that I was definitely in a different country.
When the sun goes down, the already-buzzling (and horn-tooting) city seems to buzz even more. Lots and lots and lots of people are walking along the streets, browsing the shops, buying snacks off the street stalls, checking out restaurants, etc... It has such an energy!!
Mercado Modelo is quite an entertaining place. It is northern Peru's liviest and largest daily markets. Yes, it has the usual endless aisles of everything - party decorations, underwear, costume jewellery, fireworks, etc...
But what is interesting are also the herbalists and alchemists who concoct magical potions and alternative medications for the amateur witch that is you.
LAMBAYEQUE: MUSEO DE LAS TUMBAS REALES DE SIPAN
Now, this is one of the most AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING museums I have ever visited. ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING. No matter how much I rave about it, I still can't do it justice. I must say, it is possibly the most memorable museum for me.
OK, the building is even more 'modern' - a horrendous red pyramid and ramp-like slope by the side.
But once inside, the magnificent treasures from the tomb of 'The Lord of Sipan' will totally floor you.
The entire collection of the treasures were discovered in the tombs of a 'Lord of Sipan' from the Moche culture (around 100 BC to about 700 AD). The items uncovered were indeed incredible. There were tiny, intricate, gold figurines that needed to be assembled (with dangling ear-rings and minuscule ornaments); many gold and turquoise round ear-rings; necklaces made from micro-sized shells; other gold and silver chunky jewellery shaped like peanuts, heads of men, spiders, etc; enough pottery to cook and feed Calcutta; many, many more. Stupendous collection!
Besides the treasure on display, the museum had very good representation of the tomb of the lord, buried with eight people, a few llamas and dog, and lots of pottery and treasures. There were wonderful replicas everywhere to present to us how life was like in that epoch.
This was truly one of the most impressive museums I had been to. Personally, I feel the treasures here are comparable to those unearthed in Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt. This visit will make coming to northern Peru all worthwhile already. The rest would just be bonus.
SIPAN: HUACA RAJADA
This is the original site of the amazing funerary artefacts of 'The Lord of Sipan'.
At this complex, you can see adobe pyramids all around. These immense mounds look like mere muddy mountains but I assure you, they are man-made, and they have an amazing history.
Apparently, there are 12 royal tombs discovered here, with 1,800-year-old offerings worked in precious metals, stone, pottery and textiles of the Moche culture. Of course, even as I type this, the information is probably already outdated. This area around Chiclayo is indeed incredible, and I bet there are still many many tombs very well-hidden and it will take decades to be discovered.
The most famous discovery is that of the tomb of 'The Lord of Sipan'. Here, at an exposed (but covered with a tent) tomb, they show a replica of how the lord, valuables, accompanying sacrificed servants, llama and dog, were laid down. Superb.
There is a site museum with photos and maps of the excavations and a layering display of how the lord was dressed and covered.
But the real treasures have to be appreciated at Museo de las Tumbas Reales de Sipan in Lambayeque.
Pimentel is a nearby beach resort which can get very crowded on Sundays.
There is a pier (apparently, it looks decayed and treacherous) that heads out to the sea, which I think you can walk part of it for free, and then, pay a token fee to walk further out.
Peruvian families enjoy their picnics and beach games, fully clothed. I guess, the Pacific Ocean is just too cold.
Apparenlty,t he surfing between Pimentel and Bayovar Peninsula is excellent.
Here, you can also see the 'caballitos de totora' that I have explained in Huanchaco (in Trujillo page). In the late afternoon, the fishermen return and the brisk market of buying and selling seafood goes on til evening.
Sipan Tombs Museum
This museum is a world class institution to hold the finds from the Sipan tombs. Best time to visit is on weekends when they have Mochica cultural demonstrations, foods, and crafts. The cost is only $ 3 for entrance fees.
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
Ruinas de Tucume
Afterwards, we went to Tucume to see the allegedly largest adobe pyramid in the world. Sadly, it was really deteriorated. Besides, I had been to Cholula, Mexico and that is truly the largest adobe Pyramid in
- Family Travel
Tucume and Sipan
Lots of info here on VT and the internet about Tucume and Sipan.
We took a tour with a local agency, office located almost next to the Cathedral (facing the cathedral, the street on its left).
Costs: € 40 per car for a day trip to Tucume and Lambayeque for a morning trip and again € 40 per car for Sipan. Entry fees not included, € 4 per person per site.
Info January 2009
Museo Nacional Sican - Ferrenafe
The museum tells the story of the discovery of the Sican tombs in the Lambayeque valley and it is full of beautiful artefacts, including gold and jewellery. There are displays of figures showing how the people lived and the clothing they wore. There is also a man who dresses in the costume of the ruler of Sican and tells about the culture and for a couple of soles you can have your photo taken with him (great for kids). Entrance fee is 7.70 soles which is about $2.50
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Ruinas de Sipan
Sadly, the ruins of Sipan were closed off due to a workers strike. However, the impressive Bruning Archeological Museum at Lambayeque (town 30 minutes from town) turned out to be even better. Check out my Lambayeque page!
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