It was the infamous Christopher Columbus who landed in what is now present-day Trujillo on August 14th, 1502, during his fourth and final voyage to the Americas ( Columbus originally named the area “Punta de Caxinas”. It was also his first touch upon Central American soil. He and his followers noticed how the waters in this zone of the Caribbean were extremely deep and so they proceeded to call the area “Golfo de Honduras” or “The Gulf of The Depths”.

Important points along the bay.

The town’s recorded history commenced in the year of 1524, shortly after the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés. Cortés dispatched Cristóbal de Olid to encounter a Spanish outpost within the region, to which he established a town named Triunfo de la Cruz in the vicinity. However once Olid began using this town as his base for establishing his own realm in Central America, Cortés sent Francisco de las Casas to oust him. Despite Las Casas losing the bulk of his fleet in a storm he was able to defeat Olid and restore the region to Cortés. Upon assuming control, Las Casas decided to relocate the town to its present location due to the natural harbor being larger. Triunfo de la Cruz was renamed Trujillo at this same point in time. Juan López de Aguirre – the deputy of Las Casas, was appointed to establish this new town, yet he chose to take sail instead – leaving another deputy named Medina – to found the town. Over the years Trujillo gained much importance as a shipment point for gold and silver, which was mined within the interior of the country. On account of its sparse population however, pirates became attracted to the port – raiding it on several occasions.

Statue of Juan De Medina: the man left to make something out of Trujillo. Photo Edward Padilla.

Under the Spaniards Trujillo went on to become the capital of Honduras, yet due to its terrible vulnerability the capital status was switched over to the inland town of Comayagua. Trujillo’s fortress: La Fortaleza de Santa Bárbara (El Castillo), which sits overlooking the bay, was constructed by the Spanish around the year 1550. It was however quite inadequate to properly defend Trujillo from pirates. The largest gathering of pirates occurred in 1683 with a force of rival colonial powers: the Dutch, French, and English. Trujillo was subsequently destroyed several times between 1633 and 1797, as well as during the eighteenth century, and as a result the Spanish reluctantly abandoned Trujillo for it was eventually deemed “indefensible”.

Once Honduras obtained its independence in the year 1821 (, Trujillo lost the capital city title to Comayagua who then lost it to Tegucigalpa in 1880. From this particular period onwards – Trujillo began to prosper again. In 1860, the filibuster William Walker, ( who had previously seized control of neighboring Nicaragua, was finally caught and executed in Trujillo. His tomb remains to this day as a local tourist attraction.

“In memory of the heroic gesture undertaken by the Honduran soldiers who fought in the defense of national sovereignty before the surprise attack of the Filibuster William Walker on the 6th August 1860.” Photo Edward Padilla.

An obscure North American author who went by the pen name of O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) resided for about a year in Honduras – mostly in Trujillo. He went on to produce a number of short stories which took place in “Coralio” within his fictional Central American nation of “Anchuria”, with Coralio being based on Trujillo. Most of these stories appear within his book: Of Cabbages and Kings.

To mention, alongside Omoa, Trujillo was also known for its cattle industry. The beef and milk produced though, was maintained for solely Honduran consumption and not exported, which is intriguing given the nation’s history as a place exploited for its natural goods by foreign powers.

Trujillo today.

“Isolated, plucky Trujillo is the end of the line for the Honduran mainland: beyond it lies the virtually roadless jungle of the Moskitia, so there’s a frontier-town vibe about the place. The town’s setting is magnificent, with soaring mountains in the distance and the wide arc of the Bahía de Trujillo – a brilliant blue expanse of water that has seen the sails of Columbus and many a famous buccaneer – spread out before it. Trujillo boasts some interesting history, excellent nearby beaches and a slow-moving Caribbean air you won’t find anywhere else on Honduras’ northern coastline.”

Lonely Planet

Trujillo, being one of the North Coast’s tourism gems, boasts various restaurants, bars and coffee shops etc. A quick internet search for accomodation and lodgings will produce all manner of interesting results. Plush resorts abound with one even being named after Christopher Columbus himself!

Photo credits: Edward Padilla.

Published by Ben Anson

Young writer with a passion for Latin American and Caribbean affairs.

One thought on “Trujillo.

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