When I set out to write for the people of today and of the future, about the conquest and discovery that our Spaniards made here in Peru, I could not but reflect that I was dealing with the greatest matters one could possibly write about in all of creation as far as secular history goes. Where have men ever seen the things they have seen here? And to think that God should have permitted something so great to remain hidden from the world for so long in history, unknown to men, and then let it be found, discovered and won all in our own time! Pedro Cieza de León, Chronicle of Peru (1)
This ancient town with its crunchy sounding name (2) was the birthplace of Francisco Pizarro (3), his brothers ─ Gonzalo and Hernando ─ and Francisco de Orellana, who with a bunch of obstinate Spaniards conquered a great part of South America. They and other European conquerors took advantage of different tribes through widespread, treachery and bloodshed. (4)
Despite the unaesthetic stage ─ temporary , I presume ─ the best place to start is Trujillo's main square, which, surrounded by palaces, is one of the most beautiful 16th century Spanish Renaissance city "plazas." We do get the impression that the returning Conquistadors were concerned in designing aesthetically precious churches and amazing homes to the future generations. As we left the car, the buildings shows a auspicious orange-yellow color. After five centuries the granite looks as if crushed golden autumn leaves have been rubbed all over the stones. However, in spite of autumnal colors there were extremely high temperatures. The heat makes you want to have a nice cold beer and lots of fresh water, we almost cried for refreshing drinks ...
Whatever we thought about the conquerors, we are unlikely to be ambiguous/evasive concerning Trujillo. Theatrically situated on a hilltop, with astonishing views from its Alcazaba, ravens and crows flying around ... Trujillo puts a spell on us and there’s no escaping …
Another interesting and mysterious place is the Alberca ( from the arabic word: Al birka) an old cistern, perhaps the ancient roman baths.
The heroic era of adventures in the 16th century did not impel the town into drastic changes. It's still a quiet place surrounded by farmland, and life's rhythms revolve around good wine, cheese, postres, jamón pata negra, chorizo and other regional delicacies. Rui really enjoyed the charcuterie but I asked for the typical cookies ...
(3) [...] Francisco Pizarro, Spain's famed conqueror of the Incan Indians, whose empire stretched over most of South America, went on two expeditions to find Indians in the Andes area. (...) Pizarro discovered the Incas by chance. He had been sent south in search of gold and met a boat that carried silver, gold, precious stones, fine fabrics and, of course, Incas. With three of the Incas as guides and translators, he sailed to their homeland and found a beautiful rich country. Pizarro returned to Spain for royal backing to explore the land, taking some of the gold he had found with him. The King and his court were convinced. Pizarro and his partner Almagro went to Peru with a royal contract to explore for the crown. (...)
After the death of their king, the Incas' political system fell to chaos, and in November of 1533, Pizarro marched into Cuzco, the capital, and the Incas never regained power. Truly Pizarro did something near impossible. He captured, with only 200 men, an entire empire that contained most of all South America. He never returned to Spain, and later, his own men killed him, saying he hogged too much power in the new colony. (...)
If military strategy and skill were the measure of a man, Francisco Pizarro would certainly rate in the top twenty of all time. His success seems to come from his steel nerve and ruthless, unscrupulous warfare. Also, some of his success must be attributed to fate, because, if at any time the Incas had attacked him with the entire 32,000-man army, he could not have survived. However, he did survive, and his life significantly altered the course of South America's history. However, this mainly benefited him (until he died) and Spain.[...]
(4) But in that times there was generous human people as the great Dominican defender of Indian rights, Bartolome de Las Casas, he brought a vast dossier of first-hand reportage to Valladolid debate (1550–1551). His eloquent defence of the indigenous peoples ended with a noble cri de coeur: 'All the world is human'. What is amazing is that the Spanish king actually listened. In a moment unique in the annals of imperialism, Charles V ordered the conquests to be stopped, while the issues were explored further.
Stafford Poole (Ed) In Defense of the Indians: The Defense of the Most Reverend Lord, Don Fray Bartolome De Las Casas, of the Order of Preachers, Late Bishop of Chiapa, (Northern Illinois University Press, April 1992).