Chan Chan



Once the capital of the Chimu kingdom, Chan Chan was the largest pre-Inca city in South America. In fact, it is thought to be the largest adobe city ever built anywhere, with 50,000 residents inhabiting 10 sq mi/26 sq km. It had nine subcities, each built by a different ruler, who upon his death was buried in a central royal mausoleum (wives, concubines and servants were sacrificed as funerary offerings, and especially well-made gold objects were placed in the tomb).

Unfortunately, since its glory days, freak thunderstorms (extraordinarily heavy downpours every 30-50 years) and huaqueros (tomb robbers) have severely damaged the site. The Tschudi Complex, the best-preserved section of the old city, has original and restored walls, friezes and courtyards. It's best to tour the well restored Tschudi complex. Security is poor in other parts of the site. Take a local tour and you'll have no problem. The area is about 305 mi/490 km northwest of Lima and 3 mi/5 km west of Trujillo.

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