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Chan Chan - the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, Peru

September 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, Chan Chan is an archaeological site located in the Peruvian region of La Libertad, five km west of Trujillo. Covering an area of approximately 20 km², Chan Chan was constructed by the Chimor (the kingdom of the Chimú), a late intermediate period civilization which grew out of the remnants of the Moche civilization. The vast mud city of Chan Chan was built between c.850 and c.1470 and was the imperial capital until Chimor was conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. It is estimated that 30,000 people lived in the city of Chan Chan.

The city is composed of ten walled citadels which housed ceremonial rooms, burial chambers, temples, reservoirs and some residences. Each of these citadels has a rectangular configuration with a north-facing entrance, high walls, and a labyrinth of passages.

The walls themselves were constructed of adobe brick, and were then covered with a smooth surface into which intricate designs were carved. There are two styles of design present in these carvings: one is a ‘realistic’ representation of subjects such as birds, fish, and small mammals; and the other is a more graphic, stylized representation of the same subjects. While earlier civilizations concentrated on feline and anthropomorphic forms, the Chimú style shows a preference for maritime motifs. The carvings at Chan Chan depict fish, pelicans, and nets for catching various sea creatures. Chan Chan, unlike most other coastal ruins in Peru, is located extremely close to the Pacific Ocean.

Chan Chan was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The city is severely threatened by erosion from El Niño, which causes heavy rains and flooding on the Peruvian coast. Present-day visitors to Chan Chan can enter the Tschudi Complex, believed to be one of the later citadels built in the city. There are also several other Chimú and Moche ruins in the area around Trujillo.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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