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Touring Peru is to discover an endless number of mysterious places, with stories hidden in corners that you may have never seen before stepping foot in this country. Although Machu Picchu is the best known archeological complex in Peru, there are other impressive destinations such as the citadel of Chan Chan, a large complex made of adobe where you will learn about the life of the Chimu culture.

While you visit this place you may want to upload photos to Facebook, Instagram or VK. You also will need to keep in touch with your relatives uploading photos. That’s why you may need to use one of our mobile phone plans for tourists to avoid high roaming costs. In order to make a nice trip, here in PeruSIM, we made this article about Chan Chan Citadel.

History of the Chimu culture and the Chan Chan citadel

The Chimu culture was one of the most important in the history of Peru. It settled on the northern coast of the country between the years 1000 and 1470 and at its peak expanded from Lima to the border with Ecuador. Its territory was very extensive!

The Chimu were great masters of textiles, ceramics, metallurgy and goldsmithing, but above all their architectural work is well known. Although everything that the Chimu built and created is of unparalleled value, it is inevitable to highlight the masterpiece of this culture: the citadel of Chan Chan.


Chan Chan stands out for one main characteristic: being the largest adobe citadel in America. And this place occupies no more and no less than 20 square kilometers.

But what you will find in these archeological ruins is much more. Chan Chan has hundreds of stories waiting to be told, every detail of this construction has a meaning that will make you know the thinking of the Chimu culture.

The importance of Chan Chan in the Chimu era is undeniable: this place was considered the capital of the entire kingdom and here resided the great Chimu, the highest ruler of this culture.

Chan Chan was composed of a total of ten citadels with 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 network. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through its streets?

The walls of Chan Chan are a marvel to behold: all of them are delicately decorated with high reliefs that show everyday things of the Chimu culture, especially those related to nature: waves, birds, fish…

The Chimus reigned with great power from this place and also used its surroundings for day-to-day activities and sacrificial rituals. In fact, in 2018, just a few kilometers from Chan Chan, a group of archeologists discovered 140 skeletons of children and 200 of llama offspring from what is believed to have been the largest known child sacrifice in all of history.

But their successful culture could not last forever: with the arrival of the Incas, their decline would begin. In 1470 the Inca Tupac Yupanqui arrived with his troops to the citadel of Chan Chan and, after several clashes, besieged the place, destroying the tunnels that supplied water to the entire city.

Thus, little by little, the population of the citadel of Chan Chan was reduced to only 10,000 people. 30 years after the arrival of Tupac Yupanqui, the few surviving Chimus rebelled against the Incas, but their power was far superior, so this rebellion was the end of the creative culture of Chan Chan.

With the arrival of the conquest, the Spaniards were furious with Chan Chan and plundered it, since they thought that a great treasure of gold and silver was hidden here.

But the legacy of the Chimu culture remained forever in Peru and it is suspected that there is still much to be discovered about the citadel of Chan Chan. In fact, just two years ago, in October 2018, experts working in this great complex found the most recent discovery: 19 idols carved in wood with a ceramic mask, which are believed to have had the function of protecting a particular area of this place.

The great secrets and incredible architecture of the citadel of Chan Chan attract thousands of people every day. The importance of this place is such that Unesco named it a World Heritage Site in 1986.

How to get to the citadel of Chan Chan?


The citadel of Chan Chan is located only 5 kilometers from downtown Trujillo, so it is a place that can be easily reached. To do so, you will have to take a bus to Huanchaco and ask the driver to tell you at the closest bus stop to Chan Chan. You can also do this tour by cab, a good option if you are traveling with more people with whom you can share this means of transportation.

Finally, we know that you have to keep communication with your relatives and friends, that you need to be able to orient yourself in new cities, that you might need help with translation and that you might need to search for restaurants or hotels. That’s why with PeruSIM you can buy a SIM card including the data plan of your need without having to worry about high roaming costs.