The North Coast and Northern Highlands Sights

Chán Chán

  • Ctra. Huanchaco, 5 km (3 miles) northwest of Trujillo Map It
  • Trujillo
  • Archaeological Site/Ruins
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 01/15/2017

Fodor's Review

The sprawling adobe-brick capital city has been called the largest mud city in the world. It once held boulevards, aqueducts, gardens, palaces, and some 10,000 dwellings. Within the city were nine royal compounds, one of which, the royal palace of Tschudi, has been partially restored and opened to the public. Although the city began with the Moche civilization, 300 years later, the Chimú people took control of the region and expanded the city to its current size. While less known than the Incas, who conquered them in 1470, the Chimú were the second-largest pre-Columbian society in South America. Their empire stretched along 1,000 km (620 miles) of the Pacific, from Lima to Tumbes.

Before entering this UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the extensive photographic display of the ruins at the time of discovery and post-restoration. Then, begin at the Tschudi complex, the Plaza Principal, a monstrous square where ceremonies and festivals were held. The throne of the king is thought

to have been in front where the ramp is found. The reconstructed walls have depictions of sea otters at their base. From here, head deep into the ruins toward the royal palace and tomb of Señor Chimú. The main corridor is marked by fishnet representations, marking the importance of the sea to these ancient people. You will also find renderings of pelicans, which served as ancient road signs, their beaks pointing to important sections of the city. Just before you arrive at the Recinto Funerario, the funeral chamber of Señor Chimú, you pass a small natural reservoir called a huachaque. Forty-four secondary chambers surround the funeral chamber where the king Señor Chimú was buried. In his day it was understood that when you pass to the netherworld you can bring all your worldly necessities with you, and the king was buried with several live concubines and officials and a slew of personal effects, most of which have been looted. Although wind and rain have damaged the city, its size—20 square km (8 square miles)—still impresses.

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Sight Information


Ctra. Huanchaco, 5 km (3 miles) northwest of Trujillo, Trujillo, La Libertad, Peru

Map It



Sight Details:

  • S/20, includes admission to Huaca Arco Iris, Huaca Esmeralda, and Museo del Sitio; ticket valid for 48 hours

Published 01/15/2017


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