Chiclayo (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃiˈklaʝo]) is the principal city of the Lambayeque region in northern Peru. It is located 13 kilometers inland from the Pacific coast and 770 kilometers from the nation’s capital, Lima.
Founded by Spanish explorers as “Santa María de los Valles de Chiclayo” in the 16th century, it was declared a city on 15 April 1835 by president Felipe Santiago Salaverry. He named Chiclayo “the Heroic City” to recognize the courage of its citizens in the fight for independence, a title it still holds. Other nicknames for Chiclayo include “The Capital of Friendship” and the “Pearl of the North”.
Chiclayo is Peru’s fourth-largest city, after Lima, Arequipa, and Trujillo, with a population of 738,000 as of 2011. The Lambayeque region is the fourth most populous metropolitan area of Peru, with a population of 972,713 in 2009.
The city was founded near an important prehistoric archaeological site, the Northern Wari ruins, which constitute the remains of a city from the 7th- to 12th-century Wari Empire
Many different historical accounts tell of the naming of Chiclayo. Some attribute it to an indigenous man known as “chiclayoc” or “chiclayep” who transported plaster between the ancient cities of Zaña, Lambayeque and Morrope.
Another version claims that around the time that the city was founded, the area was home to a green-colored fruit called chiclayep or chiclayop, which in the Mochican language means “green that hangs”. In some towns in the highlands of Cajamarca, squashes are known as chiclayos, evidence that this fruit is the origin of the city’s name.
Another source indicates that the word is a translation from the extinct Moche language and is derived from the word Cheqta which means “half” and yoc which means “property of”.
Others say the Mochican language had words similar to the name, such as Chiclayap or Chekliayok, which means “place where there are green branches”.
The Moche civilization began between the 1st and 7th centuries AD, occupying a territory that spanned much of what is now the northern coast of Peru, encompassing what is today the coastal area of the departments of Ancash, Lambayeque and La Libertad. This civilization developed a broad knowledge of hydraulic engineering: its people constructed canals to create an irrigation system in order to support agriculture. They produced surpluses, which supported population density and a strong economy for development. The culture was characterized by intensive use of copper in the manufacture of ornamental objects, tools and weapons.
During the Moche times, Pampa Grande, near Chiclayo, was a major regional capital.
The Mochicans produced ceramics with elaborate designs, representing religious themes, humans, animals, and scenes of ceremonies and myths reflecting their perception of the world. They were famous for huaco-portraits, which are preserved in museums around the country, highlighting amazing expressiveness, perfection, and realism. The civilization disappeared as a result of disasters caused by El Niño.
The Sican culture (or Lambayeque culture) existed between 700 and 1375AD and occupied the territory that is now the department of Lambayeque, including present-day Chiclayo.
This culture formed towards the end of the Moche civilization and assimilated much of the Moche knowledge and cultural traditions. At its peak, (900-1100), it extended over almost the entire Peruvian coast. The Sican excelled in architecture, jewelry and navigation. A thirty-year drought around the year 1020 hastened the fall of this civilization.
In the early 16th century, Chiclayo was inhabited by two ethnic groups; the Cinto and Collique. The chieftains of these ethnic groups donated part of their land for the construction of a Franciscan convent. This cesion of land was approved by the royal decree of 17 September 1585. Thus, with the advocation of Saint Maria of Chiclayo and under the direction of Father Fray Antonio of the Concepción, a church and a Franciscan covenant were erected at Chiclayo. At the time of construction of these Spanish-built edifices, the city of Chiclayo was founded. Unlike other major Peruvian colonial cities such as Lima, Piura, Trujillo, or Arequipa, Chiclayo was inhabited by a largely indigenous population rather than Spanish colonizers.
During the Peruvian War of Independence, Chiclayo supported General José de San Martín’s liberating army with soldiers, weapons, horses, and other resources, under the supervision of the most progressive creole, José Leonardo Ortiz.
After independence, Chiclayo was still a small village. In 1827, Chiclayo was elevated to the level of villa.
On 15 April 1835, Chiclayo was proclaimed a city by then-president Felipe Santiago Salaverry, who declared it a “Heroic City” in recognition of the services its people rendered in the War of Independence. The next day, the Chiclayo Province was organized, with Chiclayo designated as its capital.
Today, Chiclayo is an important Peruvian city, the financial and commercial capital of Northern Peru. Its strategic geographic location makes it a rail, communications, and automotive hub. Modern touches include large supermarkets, banking chains, warehouses, hospitals, clinics, and galleries.
Chiclayo is also known as the “City of Friendship” and Perla del Norte (“Pearl of the North”) of Perú.
The department of Lambayeque is one of the most touristic in the nation. It was home to the ancient civilization of the Moche who created some of the most ingenious monuments and works of art known to ancient Peru. In 1987, royal tombs of ancient Moche rulers were excavated. The artifacts found in the tomb were transferred to the Royal Tomb of Sipan Museum in the city of Lambayeque. Also there are the Brunning Museum and the Sicán Museum in Ferreñafe. These museums display the magnificent ancient artwork produced by the ancient Moche. The pyramids of Túcume are also in this area. In 2007, more than 306,000 tourists visited the museums of Lambayeque. There are more than 20 adobe pyramids all of which are 40 meters (131 feet) in height and are in an abundance of vegetation and wildlife. Also in the area is the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve which has abundant biodiversity. The department of Lambayeque boasts some of the best cuisine in Peru. The most popular dish in this area is duck with rice. The city of Chiclayo, the capital of the department, is the second largest in the Peruvian north and has a vibrant nightlife.
The following is a list of museums in the area: