Chan Chan is the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America originally spanning some 20km and located in Northern Peru in the Moche Valley just west of Trujillo. Despite the fact it once housed 60,000 inhabitants of the Chimu Empire, it is not as well-known as Machu Picchu or as popular. Built in 850 A.D., it would have been very impressive in its heyday particularly in light of the fact it was the largest adobe city in the world surrounded by walls 15-18m in height.
Chan Chan was the seat of power for an empire which stretched for approximately 960 km from the south of Ecuador down to central Peru. Chan Chan fell into decline after it was conquered by the Inca and the city was looted by the Spaniards during their reign.
What remains today, however, is still a sight to behold. The city once consisted of 10 walled citadels all containing plazas, temples, residences, storerooms and burial mounds filled with offerings as well as chambers containing ceramics and jewelry. While Chan Chan was built on a bleak coastal area of Peru with much water shortage, fields and gardens thrived due to a sophisticated network of canals, irrigation systems and wells.
Currently facing erosion on a grand scale, much of the site is covered with tent-like structures to protect it from the elements and further erosion. II In 1986, UNESCO named Chan Chan a World Heritage Site. Serious concerns remain about the structure which is constantly being damaged by strong winds and rains, and preservation methods are being sought.
The Tschudi Complex has been partially restored, and the grand scale of the original design is evident throughout. From the courtyards to the assembly rooms, you can enjoy the adobe friezes and wander around the impressive ruins. Should you decide to visit Chan Chan, it will remain a highlight of your Peruvian tour.