The UNESCO-designated Chan Chan site includes four main locations, which are spread out over 5,120 acres (2,072 hectares). Visit the ruins of Tschudi Palace, which are still decorated with aquatic-themed friezes. Next, explore the Chan Chan Site Museum, which holds an array of excavated ceramics and architectural models that show visitors what the city would have looked like in its heyday.
Slightly farther away, you’ll find Huaca Esmeralda and the Temple of the Dragon (Huaco el Dragon), which is also known as the Rainbow Temple (Huaca Arco Iris). These two smaller pyramidal temples also boast original friezes and reliefs, and the Temple of the Dragon offers astonishing restored rainbow-shaped friezes.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Chan Chan is located in the desert; bring sun protection and water.
There is an admission fee, but tickets are good for 48 hours and cover all four sites.
When walking through the complex, make sure not to touch the structures, as they are very fragile.
Wear comfortable shoes; exploring the site requires quite a bit of walking.
How to Get There
Chan Chan is located about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Trujillo. You can reach the site via taxi or take the Huanchaco bus (S/4) from Av. España in Trujillo. There are often taxis at the Chan Chan sites, but you may want to arrange for a driver to take you between the main locations as transportation is not always available. Many guided tours of the site include round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
Chan Chan is open daily all year round from mid-morning until early evening. Trujillo enjoys a subtropical desert climate, with a warm season (January–March), and a cooler season (June–November). The city hosts an International Spring Festival in late September, which is one of Peru’s largest and most popular festivals and includes horse shows, fashion shows, and dance contests.
The History of the Chimu Empire
The Chimú Empire reached its apex in the 15th century, shortly before falling to the Inca. At its height, Chan Chan was the largest adobe city in the world. The surrounding area was used for agriculture and boasted an extensive irrigation system. Many of the city’s adobe structures were destroyed, but evidence shows that the Chimú were master engineers and craftsmen and that many of the city’s buildings were decorated in gold and silver.