World Heritage Place - UNESCO
(1,000 - 200 BC)
Also called "Castillo Chavín"
(Chavín Castle) or "Templo Chavín"
(Chavín Temple), archaeological site located in the district
"Chavín de Huántar", on the banks of the Mosna
To arrive to "Chavín de Huántar" you have to travel
by a road that is not paved from Huaraz, 74 Km. (46 miles), which leaves
from the town of Cátac, located in the south part of the "Callejón de Huaylas". This road surrounds the "Querococha"
lagoon and snowy mountains with beautiful landscapes.
This archaeological location was the main religious and cultural
center of the Chavín nation.
Those are the oldest buildings of carved stone in Peru and any other town or
culture did not overcome their highest architectural techniques. The quality of
their construction and design is only attributed to big architects that could
have had the plans before beginning its construction.
Constructions of sacred religious character made totally in granite that was
transferred from distant quarries, due to the non-existence in the area similar
material. There can be seen numerous buildings, terraces, platforms, puddles,
outstanding for its big dimensions, the temple.
The Castillo is a high structure that is honey-combed with waters courses,
which would make the whole buildings resonate and rumble with sound when water
flowed in them. Design a bulding that could speak like this would have needed
well developed engineering skills.
The temple is
built in 3 platforms with a very advanced architecture, cylindrical columns
carved and figured, horizontal and vertical ventilation wells, in its interior
many labyrinthine passageways, galleries and niches exist in some walls. Its
construction has different levels, communicated by stairways carved in granite.
The spread of the Chavín influence indicates that trade was becoming more
common and people were moving around. Rare Ecuadorian shells are often found in
tombs of the Chavín era, as the precious lapis lazuli from Atacama desert in
Chile. There were other developments too. The construction of the Castillo, the
central building shows not only that people of this era could organize labors
forces, but also that they had engineers.
In one of their interior living rooms is located a monolithic great lance of
4.5 m height called "Lanzón
Monolítico". The thick and solid external walls are
recovered of cut and selected rectangular stones, placed in arrays that
alternate narrow with wide. In the whole contour of these walls are located the
heads that are nailed to the wall, of monstrous and ferocious aspect, carved in
rock, fixed to the walls by rock spikes. At the moment there are only a few
The essence of the Chavín style of carving is found on objects at Chavín de
Huántar such as Lazón, the Tello Obelisk and the Raimondi Stella, all of which
can be see today in museums in Lima.
The role of hallucinogenic drugs in Chavín religious life
Hallucinogenic drugs, from the San Pedro cactus (5 borders) or the Huilca
seed, have been used in Andean religion, since the earliest times. In this archeological
complex there's a fascinating representation of their use.
The walls of the sunken courtyard of Chavín were decorated with carved
heats, set deep into stone, resembling gargoyles that are found on European
cathedrals. These carvings, fixed onto wall in tiers, are three into dimensional
carvings of men and beasts, showing the transformation of a man into a snarling
feline, Some of the carved heads have mucus pouring from the nose, something
that happens when hallucinogenic snuff is snorted. This has led Chavín scholar
Richard Burger, to suggest taht heads represent a drug-taking shaman transmuting
from man to possessed prophet.
In the town of "Chavín de Huántar" exist limited
services for attention to the tourist.
The visit to Chavín require on full-day from Huaraz.