Chan Chan, Trujillo

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"Nik-An Palace, Chan Chanrooms and corridors. We had a small mishap at the entrance, when the guard noticed that the tickets we’d been sold back at the Huaca del Dragon had been stamped with yesterday’s date by accident, but eventually he let us in, and we found ourselves in a huge, relatively quiet building of high, sandy clay walls. The first room is an enormous courtyard, with crisp, even walls decorated with lines and a repeated pattern along the bottom of animals that looked like birds with big tails, while at the opposite side of the courtyard was a wide door flanked by two statues. 

We wandered through the palace, down long corridors between thick adobe walls, always covered with beautiful carvings of fish, birds, or human figures, as well as geometric Nik-An Palace, Chan Chanpatterns and shapes. The restoration work is still ongoing, and we spied a few archaeologists working on a wall behind the open section of the palace.

One girl we met actually said that one of the archaeologists, proud of his work and deciding that as an architect she must have an interest in such things, had shown her round the whole palace, taking her into sections where work was not yet completed to show her the restorations, which sounded really interesting. Not being young single girls, Sam and I didn’t get such treatment, but what we saw of the palace was still really interesting.

Towards the back of the structure, we discovered a large area with a swampy, reed-filled lake surrounded by grass and plants, which was built into the palace itself and is surrounded by the same thick adobe walls that make up Chan Chan. The contrast of this bizarre green space with the dry, beige walls and earth surrounding was really strange, and this was one of the more interesting parts of the city. 

Chan Chan Photos

The ruins at Chan Chan were really impressive, and brought to life a rich and interesting section of Peru’s history, so I was pleased that we had discovered them on our tour of Peru’s coast. After the sandy mounds and crumbling tombs at Tucume and Sipan, I had not expected to find such well preserved carvings and murals, so I was absolutely blown away by what we found at Chan Chan.

About Emily Luxton

Award-winning writer and solo female travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper travel. Lover of fun, adventure, food, Harry Potter, hiking, beaches, and chatting about the weather. Can be bought with cake.

26 Comments

  1. Beautiful place, especially for Dragon lovers. It´s always interesting how much effort those cultures (kind of reminds me of Angkor) put into their buildings and especially into the details.

  2. travelswithcurley

    Wow – these places are incredibly beautiful and the carvings are amazing! I’ve never even heard of the Chimú, but I would love to visit these places and learn more. Great post!

    • Thank you :) They were amazing places! There were so many pre-Inca cultures across South America before the Incas came along and conquered everything – all of them influenced the Incas, but it’s only really Inca culture that anyone associates with the continent. It was really interesting to learn about some of the Peruvian cultures that came first!

  3. It all looks very interesting and atmospheric – a good way of soaking up ancient history.

  4. Looks great and helpful experience.

  5. A very unique set of carvings. You captured them nicely with your photography. Always have to watch out for those nefarious “guides!”

  6. This brought me back to when I visited Chan Chan. What an amazing place! I loved all the historical info you provided, to be honest I couldn’t remember much. Shame experiences are spoilt by dodgy ‘guides’ sometimes!

    • Ah you’ve been too?! Not many people seem to have gone, I guess Trujillo is a little out of the way! It was such an impressive place – I’ve never been anywhere like it. Hummed the Indiana Jones theme a lot that day!

  7. You are right, it looks really well preserved and interesting! i only went to Moche Huaca del Sol while in Trujillo, which was also quite impressive! Nice photos too!

    • We went to the Huacos del Sol y de Luna too – I think I was slightly more impressed by those temples than by Chan Chan, but Chan Chan made for the better photos :)

  8. These are some great pictures Emily! Sorry you fell victim to the driver. Unfortunately it happens.

    It is a shame the museum is not kept up.

    • Thank you :) the driver was a bit of a pain, but all things considered it didn’t cost us that much money! We just seem to keep getting caught in the tourist net that various people set out for us – we wind up paying more than we need to because we’re too polite to say no or shop around! Never mind – we’re learning :)

  9. Manouk - Bunch of Backpackers

    Great post, we missed the north coast of Peru when were there, but as most places in Peru it seems to have amazing history!

  10. Beth Williams (@besudesuabroad)

    All those carvings are so intricate and beautiful! I’d love to go there to photograph the place.

  11. I’m just amazed at how well those carvings have held up over time. The site looks fascinating. I have to get to that region of the world someday.

  12. Those carvings are amazing! I’d never heard of this place, I’ll have to try and get there when I go to South America now though.

  13. Bianca Malata (@ItsAllBee)

    Great pictures. I must say I have never heard of this place before. Its great that the beautiful carvings are still in good condition.

  14. I really love old buildings and especially temples. And being an adventures, exploring old ruins and ancient history. Great stuff!

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