Just outside Trujillo is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas, an astonishing walled city filled with temples, palaces, tombs and art.
Step inside the high walls of Chan Chan and experience one of Peru’s most significant archaeological sites. Follow walkways to temples, palaces and tombs, all expertly built using sundried mud bricks. Admire the intricate artwork and craftsmanship of the Chimú, Peru’s biggest pre-Incan empire.
Chan Chan is situated on Peru’s west coast and is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Trujillo. It is the largest pre-Columbian city on the American continent and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site prospered as a city from around 1000 until 1470, when it was conquered by the Incas.
A good place to start your visit is at the Tschudi Palace, the finest of several restored royal complexes inside the city. Painted arrows will guide you through a labyrinth of walkways to ceremonial courtyards, living quarters, gardens and royal cemeteries. Take time to envisage the sophisticated empire that once supported tens of thousands of inhabitants.
Stop to admire the intricate carvings adorning the complex’s walls. You may notice much ocean-themed art, such as waves, fish and seabirds. Being close to the ocean, marine life featured significantly in the diet, lifestyle and religious beliefs of the Chimú people. Further artwork depicts mythological figures.
Visit the Museo de Sitio de Chan Chan, where displays explain Chan Chan’s natural and social history. There’s also a ceramics collection and models of the city. It’s about a 20-minute walk from Tschudi Palace to the museum.
Public buses and minibuses depart regularly for Chan Chan from Trujillo’s city center. If you don’t feel like walking then consider renting a taxi for the day. Organized tours are easily arranged by travel agencies located in Trujillo.
The site is open daily. Tickets are valid for 48 hours, allowing the opportunity to break your visit up over two days. Local guides are available for hire at the entrance to the Tschudi Palace. Tickets also include entrance to Huaca Esmeralda and Huaca del Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple), two pyramid temples situated a short drive from the main site.