Travel update - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - See how this could affect your travel plans. Read our Coronavirus FAQs
Tierras Vivas
A Whole World of Experience
+51 984 004 472

Chan Chan

Home / Travel Blog / Chan Chan
Chan Chan

On the north coast of Peru, over the Moche valley, an impressive citadel made of adobe is built, which is considered a Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Chan Chan. This millennial tourist attraction is located 5 km from the City of Trujillo, in La Libertad, expanding into a large territory of about 20 km2.


Chan Chan Peru groups ten walled citadels of the ancient Chimu culture, which is why it is classified as the largest adobe building in America. In its walls, high-relief decorations stand out with beautiful figures engraved in various forms: geometric figures, birds, fish, among others.


The citadel is located in a privileged area for tourism. If you are interested in millenary attractions, visiting this wonderful construction of the Chimu culture will fascinate you.


Chan Chan Archeological complex

For the remains found it is assumed that Chan Chan was in the past a sacred political cnter. An example is this personage that dressed up with the governing stick and a tunic, reminds us of the pre Hispanic heroes and gods. These idols were placed in niches in the walls built in architectonic forms with mud bricks.


Several restorastion works are carried out by sectors because the protected archeological area has an extension of 14 square kilometers.


Process of Construction

There is little agreement from researchers about the construction sequence. Some have proposed that the entire city was made all at once (Lanning 1967), however most have suggested a sequential construction and occupation for the entire city. The construction sequence of Chan Chan could be summarized in three stages:


First Stage (850 - 1100 AD)

It begins with the construction of the Chayguac citadel that has the simplest internal organization, then the Uhle citadel that presents a more complex planning with the presence of administrative offices (audiences). This makes evident an economic movement based on taxes.


Second Stage (1125 - 1370 AD)

During this stage the Labyrinth citadel was built, with which the three-part (tripartite) structure of the citadels was formally instituted. The Gran Chimú citadel, the largest in Chan Chan Peru, is built, with spacious plazas, numerous warehouses and annexes. It highlights the centralization of political and economic power.


Third Stage (1370 - 1470 AD)

The size of the citadels is reduced, as well as the space for the deposits. There is a decrease in taxes. On the contrary, state officials and administrators increased considerably, perhaps, with the intention of obtaining greater taxes. However, it was difficult to sustain so many officials in a period of economic crisis. This weakened any resistance to the threat of the Incas. Design of Otters or Squirrels.


The Kingdoms and Seigniories

That prevailed in what is maximun architectonic expression in the Archeological Complex. These constructions and buildings might reflect the insight of a symbolic world and of a social and political view about ehith few references are available with regardas to structure and form.


In the first palce, the architectonic distribution in itself shows that there were specific social, political and religious schemes. Secondly, the regional space or network of the constructions in Chan Chan give also an idea of how those kingdoms were developed cack in yaer 1000 AC in what is now the northern coast of Peru, until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors into this territory, which at that time had already been invaded by the Incas under Túpac Yupanqui.


Chan Chan Peru Population

It is calculated between 20 to 30 thousand inhabitants and the inhabitants of all the Chimú territory in 500 thousand, according to John Rowe. According to Middendorf (1894) in Chan Chan Peru lived 100 thousand people. At the time of abandonment, the population would have been from 5 to 10 thousand inhabitants.


A Founder who came from the ocean

In the few recorded docuemnts found, reference is made to Tacaynamo, a hero or god considered to be the ancestor of the ancient populations who lived in the region. It is supposed that he landed into the coast in a raft made of sticks. From the few describing features the assumption could be that this character had supernatural powers, such as using yellow powers during the ritual ceremonies. And it is from this mythical hero or god thar the generations form the Chimus seigniors of kings descend.


The Chimus seigniories and the Inca Conquest

According to an anonymous chronicle dated around 1604 and 1610, after the Tacaymayo hero there were twenty seigniors who ruled in this place. Among them are Guacri Caur and Ñanzenpinco, who expanded the borders of the Chimu Kindom and made significant territorial conquest.


However the military star Chimus is Minchancaman, who expanded his territory as a far the northers area of Tumbes. It is then when the Incas apeared with Tupac Yupanqui as their leader and the glory of the Chimus fell under the hands of the powerful Cusco army. the Incas took away with them the gold, -the silver and other things- and caused the death of many people living in the area occupied by the Chimu seigniors.


Death, power and inheritance

According to Geoffrey Conrad, a dual inheritance was established in Chan Chan. At the death of the ruler, his heir received only the political office, while the property and income of the deceased passed to a group of his descendants in the form of administrators, since the owner was still the dead ruler. Therefore, each ruler had to build his own citadel, to inhabit it with his closest relatives and to organize his own administration with new officials. To obtain wealth, he had to conquer new territories. The citadels were then sacred places of funeral cult, occupied by a group of people who administered the rents of the deceased. According to scholars, this modality should have started during the Chimú expansion period, since there is no indication of this in the initial stage. Possibly the first citadels were occupied by more than one ruler.


Other Archaeological Sites than Chan Chan


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the 7 wonders of the world most visited by tourists, it has beautiful stone-based constructions, they were carved with great precision and detail, it is the most important work for the Incas for having been built on a rugged and inaccessible mountain , divided into two large sectors, urban and agricultural separated by a large wall that descends the hillside until it reaches the banks of the Vilcanota River.


Hiking tours to Machu Picchu

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.


When is the best time to hike to Machu Picchu?

The best season is during the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi 2020 Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes. 

Request information

Travel New Posts


Transformers in Cusco and Machu Picchu

20 October 2021
Places such as Machu Picchu, the main square of Cusco and other locations will be the scenarios that will give life to the new installment of the Transformers saga.

+ More information +


Machu Picchu Tickets 2021 - 2022

16 October 2021
Do you want to book and buy your Machu Picchu Tickets 2021-2022? Check how to get your Machu Picchu tickets, there are 4 circuits to to explore the Machu Picchu and mountains

+ More information +


Inca Trail Permit New Regulations 2022

07 October 2021
The Inca Trail permits 2021 is running out and the Inca Trail permits 2022 is opening this year, Book It! remember there are only 250 spots availability.

+ More information +

Best Peru Tours