Chan Chan is the largest city of the pre-Columbian era in South America. Located in the mouth of the Moche Valley in the Peruvian region of La Libertad, this city is now an archaeological site. It lies approximately 500 km north of Lima, next to the city of Trujillo.
In 1986, Chan Chan was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. With an area covering about 20 square kilometers, it is considered the largest adobe city in the Americas. It was believed to inhabit 30,000 people at some point. As the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, it was where the king, queens, and priests resided and was the political and administrative center of the kingdom.
Chan Chan was the capital of the historical empire of the Chimor between 900 to 1470. When they were defeated by the Inca in 1470, they were incorporated into the Inca Empire, and Chan Chan began to decline. It would eventually be looted by the Spaniards, and it is believed that the items stolen amounted to more than what would be $5 million is gold.
At the site, you will find remnants of industrial, agricultural, and water management systems that once sustained this extensive city. In the center is a zone where you will find complexes. Within the city are ten walled citadels and temples, dwellings, and storehouses. Made of adobe, the walls of the buildings were decorated with abstract motifs that were anthropomorphic and zoomorphic.
In 2015, 31 human burials that dated back to more than 600 years ago were discovered in Chan Chan. The burial area is known as the Recinto Funerario, and it is considered the most sacred part of Tschudi. It is where the tomb of El Senor Chimo and his wives was located.
One of the most beautiful Chimu temples is Huaca La Esmeralda. It was uncovered in 1923, and while its adobe walls and decorations have been damaged due to the rains over many years, you can still see how impressive its façade once was with its many colors and marine-related motifs.
How To Get There
Chan Chan is located 5 km from the city proper. First, you need to make your way to Trujillo. You can get there by plane, train, car, bus, or boat. Its main site is on the frequent bus route to Huanchaquito plus a 15-minute walk.
However, to visit Chan Chan, we recommend that hire an official taxi or tourist guide who will make the round trip from Trujillo who will wait for you while you explore the ruins. At Chan Chan, there are four main sites and because of its size, expect to do quite a bit of walking, and in some cases, you may even have to take a taxi if you want to explore it all. A guide would ensure that you do not get lost in this incredibly big and complex site.