(Mochica's voice "jang jang": sun sun)
The Chimu kingdom, of which Chan Chan was the capital, reached its peak in
the 15th century, not long before falling under the Incas. The planning of this
huge city, the biggest in pre-Colombian America, reflects a strict political and
social strategy, marked by its division into nine "citadels" or
"palaces" forming independent units.
Threats to the Site:
The vast and fragile site of Chan Chan was inscribed on the List
of World Heritage in Danger in 1986, the same year it was inscribed on the
World Heritage List. Its adobe, or earthen, structures are quickly damaged by
natural erosion as they become exposed to air and rain and they require
continuous conservation efforts and substantial ancillary measures. The
Committee recommended, therefore, that appropriate measures be taken for the
conservation, restoration and management of the site, that excavation work be
halted unless accompanied by appropriate conservation measures and that all
possible steps be taken to control plundering of the site. A substantive state
of conservation report was prepared in 1993 and reported to the seventeenth
session of the World Heritage Committee.
Since then, efforts of the site administrators have been directed towards the
preparation of a master plan and training of conservation and management
personnel, with substantial support from the World Heritage Fund. In 1999, a
comprehensive master plan addressing conservation and management issues, as well
as the interpretation of the site for visitors, will be completed.
A first Pan-American Course on the Conservation and Management of Earthen
Architectural and Archaeological Heritage, which directly benefits to the
preservation and management planning for the site, was held in Chan Chan in
1996, jointly organised by the Government of Peru, ICCROM, CRATerre EAG and the
Getty Conservation Institute. A second course is scheduled for 1999.
In 1998 the impact of El Niño, the warm Pacific current which affects
climate world-wide, was unusually strong, leading to torrential rain and
flooding. Emergency measures had to be taken, with assistance from the World
Heritage Fund, to protect Chan Chan. The impact of El Niño on the site has,
however, been relatively modest and the protective measures, undertaken with
emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund, were effective.
Pre-Inca City and archaeological center declared Archaeological World
Heritage Site by UNESCO. Located on a vast plain, very near the ocean
(Huanchaco) and at 4 Km northwest of Trujillo.
Capital of the Chimú kingdom,
city made of mud, considered as the biggest in America and one of the biggest of
the world; its importance is only comparable to the old cities of Egypt,
Mesopotamia, India, China or Teotihuacán in Mexico.
It occupies an area of 15 square/km where exist palaces, temples, squares,
ponds, gardens, aqueducts, labyrinths. Its walls are ornamented with beautiful
and stylized carved drawings of fish, pelicans, rhombuses, foxes, etc.
Its construction was begun by the Mochicas in the third Century and was
inhabited until the VII century. It became the capital of the Chimu nation in
the XII century. The city also received the names of Chimo, Chimor and
In the time of its maximum splendor it is calculated that its population was
above 100,000 inhabitants, with all the services and excellent urban line.
The city is subdivided in rectangular sectors from 200 to 400 m length, with
walls of trapezoidal shape that reach up to 12 m height and with roads among the
walls. These sectors today take the name of their main investigators, as
Tschudi, Uhle, Tello, Rivero, Velarde, etc. The central part, called Great Chimú
Palace is the more advisable place to start your visit, as well as the Huaca "El Dragon".
At the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the city was plundered, being taken
many invaluable pieces of gold, silver, gems and ceramics.
Through time it has been erosioned and destroyed by the climate due to its
proximity to the sea, and effects of "El Niño" phenomenon.
Besides, the huaqueros action, farmers and the lack of protection of authorities
in the past it is not well preserved. Some sections of the city have been
reconstructed and restored, and at the moment it is declared as intangible area
and protected in an extension of seven square/km.
Advisable minimum time for the visit 4 hours.