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Friday, January 1, 2010

Chilling at Chan Chan, Trujillo

Peru can boast several intriguing pre-Columbian civilizations and the Chimu were just one of the powerful groups to dominate the north Peruvian coast. One of the the landmarks that was constructed by the mighty Chimu people was the citadel of Chan Chan.

Chan Chan was originally constructed around 850 A.D and served as the imperial capital for the Chimu people. It remained so until the Inca conquered the Chimu around 1470 A.D. The Chimu were expansionists just like the Inca and their empire stretched over much of the coastal region of northern Peru at the height of their success. The Inca tried to take over Chan Chan in 1462, but had great difficulty defeating them eventually triumphing by inhibiting the irrigation channels that supplied water to the citadel.

Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the world covering roughly 7.7 square miles and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It is located about 5km outside of Trujillo on the road out to the beach side resort of Huanchaco. In fact the road to Huanchaco drives right through the middle of the remains.

Although Chan Chan in its entirety is massive, the only part of the complex that has been fully restored is the Tschudi Complex. This is probably one of the later additions to Chan Chan and is filled with fascinating bas reliefs and friezes on the complex walls. These engravings offer fascinating insight into the Chimu people and their beliefs.

The layout of the Tschudi complex demonstrates the highly organized structure of Chimu culture as well as some innovative technological advances they had developed such as their own natural air conditioning and food storage systems and wells.

A taxi out to the site from the center of Trujillo will cost you around 10 soles. It is best if you get the taxi to wait for you since it is difficult to get transport back. This will cost you more obviously, but also saves a bit of hassle. Alternatively you can get a bus that goes to Huanchaco to take you, they depart from Avenida Espana in the city center.

The Tschudi complex is open from 9am to 4:30pm every day except Christmas Day and New Years Day. The price of entry is $3.70 US for an adult ticket. You may read older advice that says the road between the complex and highway is dangerous, this is no longer the case although the beach around the complex is not a particularly safe place to stroll on your own.

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