Chan Chan Archaeological Area

The archaeological site of Chan Chan lies on the northern coast of Peru near the city of Trujillo, about 600 km north of Lima. The ancient town was the political, administrative and religious capital of the Chimú civilization. Due to its large size and distinctive architectural structures, Chan Chan constitutes the best surviving evidence of this culture and is one of the most important pre-Columbian monuments in the American continent.

The most densely inhabited part covered about 6 km2, but Chimú’s built-up area, including urban and non-urban paths, cultivated fields, walls and irrigation channels, covered more than 20 km2 and comprised a highly complex and structured urbanized territory that reflected a high level of social and economic organization.

The central area contains nine monumental buildings protected by high perimeter walls (citadels or ciudadelas), six stepped pyramids with religious functions (huacas), a series of residential areas, a dense network of streets bordered by high walls connected to the various architectural features, and a number of ceremonial paths. This magnificent example of urban organization has been rightly recognized as a synthesis of developments in the various successive cultures that lived along the coast during preceding centuries and hence an important contribution to Andean culture, resulting in the listing of Chan Chan as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.