The first archaeological site people think of when Peru comes to mind is without a doubt Machu Picchu and fair enough, but Chan Chan in Trujillo is another that should not be missed. And you may not have too much longer to visit…
Chan Chan is the ancient capital of the Chimú Kingdom and is the largest earthen architecture complex in the Americas. Trujillo is not exactly a scenic stop though, it’s one of the most populated and urban cities in the country. The site is doomed by the urban sprawl and illegal farming that takes place alarmingly close to the earthen remains.
There have always been resources invested in the study and conservation of the site but the buffer zone around Chan Chan is an illusive one which sees the surrounding farms and huacas causing more damage than good.
Discovering Chan Chan
Chan Chan spans around 20 square kilometres in the Valley of Moche, just outside the urban boundaries of Trujillo. It’s an amazing example of urban planning for an ancient culture. The complex shows very clear constructions, each with a specific use, that is built with social and political hierarchies in mind. The city was in use for over 600 years before the Incas conquered the area in the late 1400s.
Chan Chan made it onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986 and was added to the list for Heritage Sites in Danger that same year. Unless the site is better managed with clear buffer zones around the site, irreparable damage will be done.
Visiting Chan Chan:
- Opening times: open daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm
- Getting there: You can either grab a taxi who will make the return trip from Trujillo (ask him to wait for you while you’re visiting the ruins) or you can take a combo from Ave. España to “Huanchaco.” Ask the driver to let you off at Cruce de Chan Chan and from there it’s a short walk along a dirt road to get to the ruins.
Incredible, isn’t it?