Known as Peru's Friendship Capital for the warm hospitality of its people, the city of Chiclayo finds itself in the midst of an archaeological zone so rich in pre-Inca treasures that it's second only to Cuzco as the country's premier archaeological tourism destination. Thanks to its strategic location at the crossroads of transportation routes linking the northern coast with the Andes and Amazon, it's also a major commercial and economic center. Chiclayo was founded as an Indian reduction in colonial times and lies in a fertile agricultural valley that receives warm sunshine year round and virtually no rainfall.
The city boasts handsome architecture and plazas, including the neoclassical cathedral, republican-style municipal palace and La Verónica chapel. A fascinating place to explore is the central market place, where special herbs and concoctions used in shamanic rituals are sold. Also worth a visit are the picturesque villages that pepper the surrounding countryside, including Monsefú with its exquisite handwoven and embroidered goods, the viceregal ghost town of Zaña, and Pimentel with its prime surfing waves and traditional caballitos de totora boats. The nearby Chaparrí Reserve protects dry forest habitat and endangered animals like the spectacled bear and white-winged guan.
The Lambayeque, Sicán, Mochica and Chimú cultures left behind impressive ruins in the surrounding area, some of the most famous being those at Batán Grande, the pyramids of Túcume and the Huaca Rajada. Many of the spectacular archaeological treasures unearthed here can be viewed at the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum, National Sicán Museum and the Brüning Archaeological Museum located in nearby Lambayeque and Ferreñafe.