Chan Chan

Chan Chan Citadel in Trujillo Peru

Chan Chan Citadel

This archeological site is located at 4km west of the city of Trujillo in the Moche river valley, following the paved highway to Huanchaco. It was the capital of the Chimu culture, built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries AD by the rules of the Tacaynamo dynasty. Chan Chan, which spans an area of 20 square km, is the largest mud-brick citadel dating back to the pre-Hispanic era. To build it, the Chimu architects used clay, mud, pebbles, wood, reeds, straw and cane, materials that enable the citadel to blend in with the sandy coasts.

The complex is made up of many cities within a city, each of which has its own single entrance which leads down a corridor that opens up into other passageways lining walls and buildings featuring some marvelous rectangular architecture: inner patios, residences, administrative buildings, temples, platforms and storehouses. The walls were decorated with haut-relief friezes done in geometric and animal figures. The T-shaped platform that housed the king’s burial chamber was the most important construction in the complex.

The citadel was surrounded by outlying quarters, which housed the kingdom’s producers and servants. The separate cities today have been given the names of the archaeologists who studied them (Rivero, Tschudi, Bandelier, Uhle, Tello). The Rivero city was the seat of Minchancaman, the last of the Chimu rulers, who was captured by the Incas and taken to Cusco, according to the Spanish chroniclers.

The city was the urban center of a vast regional state, which covered half of the Peruvian coast, stretching from Tumbes on the Ecuadorian border down as far south as Lima. All roads branched out from Chan Chan citadel.

Chan Chan Visiting Regulations

To help with preserving this invaluable archeological monument and world natural and cultural heritage site, we recommend you bear the following in mind:

•Bring drinks in canteens only
•Do not bring food or eat within the monument
•Do not climb the walls
•Put litter in the indicated trashcans
•Do not contaminate water sources
•Walk only on the signaled circuits

Chan Chan Pictures

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