Chan Chan, Peru Ruins

The Chan Chan, Peru, Ruins, once formed the capital of the former Chimu kingdom in the Moche Valley near Trujillo, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The capital of the historical empire of the Chimor from 900 to 1470,  was conquered by the Incas. The history of Chan Chan reveals the coastal Chimu empire from  mid Peru to southern Ecuador. Located in the desert of coastal Peru, the run off rivers from the Andes allowed for agriculture water through elaborate irrigation systems as it does today.


Chan Chan spread accross 20 km2 with a dense urban center of 6 km2 with elaborate ciudadelas, with housed plazas, storerooms, and burial sites for the nobles. Housing for the lower classes were small rooms, named SIARs, many of which were also used as workshops.


History of Chan Chan, Peru

The history of Chan Chan started around 850 AD by the Chimors, when it became the capital of the Chimu empire, with an urban population of 40,000-60,000 people. After the Incas conquered the Chimu around 1470 AD, Chan Chan fell into decline. When Francisco Pizarro founded Trujillo in 1535, Chan Chan was still well known for its great riches and looted by the Spanish a documented extraction from a burial tomb treasure equivalent to 80,000 pesos of gold ( $5,000,000 US dollars). In 1969, Michael Moseley and Carol J. Mackey began excavations of Chan Chan; today these excavations and restorations continue under the Peruvian Instituto Nacional de Cultura, following the 1998 "Master Plan for Conservation and Management of the Chan Chan Archeological Complex".


Methods of conservation include reinforcement and stabilization of structures of main buildings and around the Tschudi Palace, using a blend of traditional and modern engineering techniques. After decades of patient restoration, Chan Chan has become one of South America's greates monuments and at par with Cusco and Machu Picchu, but totally different in appearance (adobe versus chiseled rocks) and setting (mountainous versus coastal desert).


The ancient structures of Chan Chan are threatened by erosion, flooding, and strong winds during the heavy rains in El Niño years. Roofed structures partially cover some of the most fragile sites, but it is difficult to cover  20 km2.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] City wall.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] City complex.

An overview of Chan Chan, the enormous capital of the Chimor empire.

The 6 - 12m high city wall of the Adobe capital of Chan Chan.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] Central Gate.

The impressive gateway into the ancient city.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] World Heritage site.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] Entrance.

The entrance to the city's main gate way.

A replica of a well at the entrance.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] City emperor.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] Museum.

A replica of a Chan Chan royal.

The Chan chan museum on the premises of the World Heritage site.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] Foundations.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] wall decorations

The roof protected interior of the monument.

All the  walls are lined with friezes.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021]: A family enjoying a guided tour.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021]: reservoirs fed by an elaborate irrigation system.

A family enjoying a guided tour.

The town had reservoirs fed by an elaborate irrigation system.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] stylized reliefs decorate the inner walls of the city.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021] Reliefs

elongated friezes (bands of artwork) in stylized reliefs decorate the inner walls of the city.

Many motifs represented different forms of marine life.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, RUINS [ 2021]: Huaca Esmeralda.CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021]: the smaller huacas are more elaborate, indicating ceremonial purposes.

While Chan Chan was the capital, other nearby huacas are still present, like the Huaca Esmeralda.

The reliefs on the smaller huacas are more elaborate, indicating ceremonial purposes.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, RUINS [ 2021]: Huaca del Dragon.CHAN CHAN, PERU, RUINS [ 2021]: Huaca del Dragon Reliefs.

The Huaca del Dragon, or Arco Iris (Rainbow) is another cermonial pyramid.

Very elaborate reliefs of the Huaca del Dragon monument.


CHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021]: murals of the Huaca del DragonCHAN CHAN, PERU, [FACTS 2021]: extremely elaborate and beautifully shaped RELIEFS

The murals of the Huaca del Dragon are extremely elaborate and beautifully shaped.



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