Chan Chan | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Chan Chan

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

About Chan Chan

Chan Chan is an impressive site in Peru and the world’s largest adobe city as well as the largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas. As the capital of the ancient Chimu civilisation, Chan Chan was developed in around 1300 AD and would have reached its peak in the fifteenth century, after which the Chimu were overtaken by the Incas and the city was abandoned.

Still a vast site today, it is thought that Chan Chan was home to a population of tens of thousands, perhaps up to 100,000 people. Partly due to erosion, but also to mass looting, what remains is a shadow of the grandeur of the former city and yet is still an incredible sight.

Chan Chan is a labyrinth of dwellings, palaces, fortifications, streets, storehouses and temples, all organised into a well-planned city structure spanning approximately 20 square kilometres.

The buildings at Chan Chan were ornately decorated, adorned with elaborate friezes, some of which can still be seen today and which depict animals, mythical creatures and abstract shapes. Sadly, what cannot be seen now is any gold or silver which probably decorated many of these sites, as this has all been stolen.

Divided into four sections, one of the main areas of Chan Chan is Palacio Tschudi (the Tchudi Palace), which has been thoroughly – and some say overly – restored.

Many people who visit Chan Chan would choose to only see parts of the site, while enthusiasts may want to see it all – this requires either a guided tour or taking taxis to each part of the site. There is also a small Chan Chan Museum – Museo de Sitio – housing some finds from the site.

Today, Chan Chan is a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO on its “sites in danger” list. This site features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Peru.