The ancient citadel of Chan Chan is considered the world’s most significant pre-Columbian adobe building. Chan Chan is the largest city in South America, located in the Mouthe Valley; the Chan Chan city’s extension and relief have made it famous and receive infinite visitors annually from the world.
Chan Chan belongs to the Chimu culture, which built an empire in the coastal valleys of the La Libertad region more than a thousand years ago. The citadel itself dates back to the 9th century AD, and its name means “Sun Sun”. Its size, complexity and structure suggest that it was the most important urban and administrative centre of the Chimu empire.
Chan Chan stands out for its adobe walls, which have stood the test of time, have a trapezoidal shape and reach a height of up to twelve meters. These walls were joined with mud and supplemented with wood and straw to form lintels and roofs.
The sector known as the citadel comprises various houses, including Chayhuac, Big House, Little House, Bird House, etc., which are believed to be the rooms where the Chimu rulers would have lived together with their court. The sector stands out for the excellently crafted high-reliefs that decorate its walls, with birds and fish motifs. The curious thing is that when they died, the houses of the rulers became their tombs, along with a good part of their court.
Within the complex is a site museum, which keeps on displaying various objects found in the excavation of Chan Chan, such as Chimu pottery, stone pieces and bone remains.
Chan Chan City stands out for one main feature: America’s most enormous adobe citadel. And it is that this place occupies nothing more and nothing less than 20 square kilometres.
Chan Chan has hundreds of stories waiting to be told; every detail of its construction has a meaning that will make you know the thought of the Chimú culture. The importance of Chan Chan in the Chimú era is undeniable: the place was considered the capital of the entire kingdom, and the great Chimú, the maximum leader of this culture, lived there.
Chan Chan was made up of a total of ten citadels, among which were more than 100,000 workshops, pyramidal temples, streets and walls. It is estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 people lived in this labyrinthine framework. The walls of Chan Chan are a wonder to behold: all of them are delicately decorated with high reliefs showing everyday things of the Chimú culture, especially those related to nature: waves, birds, and fishes.