The amazing archaeological city of Chan Chan is located
just a few miles outside of the city of Trujillo.
The valley in which it is found is known as the Moche
Valley, and in terms of importance, Chan Chan figures
among the most prominent historical sites in all of Peru.
The Chan Chan ruins are spread over a fairly wide area,
and there are four main sites that you can visit.
Getting from site to site can be done by walking, or by
taking a series of taxi rides. If you choose to walk the
ruins, it is a good idea to stick to the main paths, as
some lone visitors have reported criminal activity in
the area. Though the ruins found here do not exactly
seem as complete as some of the Inca highland ruins such
as Machu Picchu, Chan Chan
is nonetheless a real treat to explore. Chan Chan
was the center of the Chimu Empire, and it is the largest
pre-Columbian adobe city known to have existed on the
The Chimu Empire, which is also known as the Kingdom
of Chimor, thrived roughly between the years 850 AD and
1470 AD. Its reach saw it extend some 600 miles
from Lima on up the northern coast
of Peru. The Chimu Empire was the largest kingdom
around during what is referred to as the Late Intermediate
period, accounting for some two-thirds of the Andean peoples.
The Chimu people were highly influenced by nearby cultures,
such as the Cajamarca and
the Huari. Indigenous legend has it that Chan Chan
was founded around 850 AD by the figure Taycanamo, who
supposedly came by way of canoe from the sea. Though
the Chimu Empire was the only one around at the time that
had any sort of capacity to fight off the ensuing Inca
invasion, it would nonetheless fall to the Inca, beginning
sometime around the 1470"s. By 1493, the Chimu conquest
was all but complete. It is interesting to note
that unlike the Inca, who revered the sun perhaps more
than anything else, the Chimu people worshiped the moon
instead. It was their belief that the sun only destroyed
things, which is easy to understand if you consider the
desert environment that characterizes the region.
The Chimu are perhaps best known for their pottery, which
can depict some pretty racy scenes, and for their metal
Chan Chan Trujillo tours are abundant enough, and if
you choose to visit the ruins with a guide, it can greatly
enhance your understanding of the ruins. If you
think that you would like to tackle the ruins on your
own, it is advised that you bring some sort of informative
guide, as you are sure to get curious from time to time.
Among the Chan Chan ruins, you can expect to see a number
of ruined citadels, as well as pyramidal temples and sturdy
defense walls. Other features include plazas, living
quarters, and a royal cemetery, among others. Intricate
carvings, some realistic and some stylized, can still
be found among the adobe walls of the Chan Chan ruins,
many of which depict a life highly influenced by the nearby
ocean. It is believed by scholars that some 30,000-50,000
people lived in Chan Chan, with a likely variance according
to season. The main compounds at Chan Chan were
reserved for nobility, and commoners were likely forbidden
to enter them.
If you only have a small window of time to explore the Chan Chan ruins, you might head directly to the principal complex, which is known as the Tschudi Palace. It was named after a Swiss explorer, and due to the fact that it has been restored to some degree, it is easier to understand than are the other 8 royal compounds. The Tschudi Palace probably housed between 500 and 1,000 noble people, and its courtyard is one of the best places to observe Chimu friezes. The palace’s sanctuary is also of elevated interest, as its walls exhibit a sort of fishnet pattern. Before you get to the Chan Chan ruins, you might consider stopping at the Museo de Sitio de Chan Chan, which has some very informative exhibits based around the Chimu Empire and the city of Chan Chan. You can walk from the museum to the Tschudi Palace in about 20 minutes. If you are here between December and April, you might find that the desert heat will lead you to one of the nearby beaches. The best beaches in Peru are located along the northern coast, with some nice options as far down as the capital city of Lima. The Trujillo hotels should suffice for your stay near Chan Chan, and various beach towns have hostels and hotels to choose from as well.