Walking through the streets of Trujillo, it is often hard for me to comprehend just how historic the city is. Trujillo was founded in the Middle Ages. The city is old. I walk the same streets that Francisco Pizzaro, who conquered the Incas in Peru, walked. I walk through the giant doors they would close to defend the city from invasion. I walk around the Castillo de Trujillo, which would hold all of the city’s residents during time of conflict. Trujillo was visited by King Ferdinand of Aragon and Princess Isabella of Castilla, who unified Spain.
Coming from Charleston, I had thought I was prepared to live in another historic city. I anticipated seeing a lot of historical markers, old buildings, and famous houses. I even expected to feel the frustration of walking on cobblestone streets, which are very similar to the uneven streets of Charleston. During the first few days of wandering Trujillo, I got the sense that I was exploring just the surface of the history available. Then, it hit me how historic this city truly was. If Charleston is old, Trujillo is ancient. It is hard to comprehend, and put in words, the sensation of walking the same streets of conquistadors and kings. It is so surreal to stand in the turret of a castle, where ancient Trujillanos once stood and sent down attacks on enemy forces. It is remarkable to climb to the top of the city, look down, and quite literally see how the city was expanded over time.
While Charleston has integrated its history into its present day, Trujillo takes this to a different level. Many of the structures, buildings, and historic sites are perfectly preserved as they were when the first Trujillanos were around. Innocuous nooks and crannies hosted visiting monarchs and spaces of religious significance. Stone markers on the top of buildings are ancient family crests of those who went to build Spain into the country it is today.
Part of this seemingly amplified historic nature is simply due to how much older the city is, and how much older Europe is in general. History started earlier here, dating back to the 6th century B.C. with the first documentation of los iberos, the earliest people on the Iberian Peninsula. The length of the history of the city means that many sites have had multiple historic moments and purposes.
We have classes in a historic convent, and we travel through time in our coursework, only to be transported back to the ancient era the moment we walk outside. The historical gravitas of Trujillo is not simply one part of the city, it is the foundation of the city. It defines the people, defines the culture, and defines the lived experience.