Chan Chan: the capital of the ancient Pacific Ocean's Kingdom

Vanesa Zegada | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Several centuries ago, there was a big kingdom along the coastline of Peru, with an impressive capital called Chan Chan. Its mud walls decorated with thousands of figures, mostly related to the sea, showed the connection of its inhabitants with the ocean. Today, I want to reveal this magnificent place to you. Let me introduce you to Chan Chan, the capital of an ancient Pacific Ocean's Kingdom.

Centuries before the Inca culture existed, there was a large and powerful kingdom called Chimu. They occupied the coastline from Lima in Peru to the border with Ecuador. And they never expanded inland, as if their hearts were linked to the sea. In fact, the legend says that even the founder of its capital, Chan Chan, came on a canoe from the ocean.

© iStock/rchphoto

Chan Chan, the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, is located in a desert area near the coastline. The city has survived well enough to give us a good idea of how it looked centuries ago with nearly 60.000 inhabitants.

Once the visitors step on Chan Chan, there is something that many of them cannot help not to notice. Chan Chan looks very similar to the ancient Persian cities (located on the other side of the world), with labyrinthic streets, mud constructions, and its location in the middle of a desert. Additionally, Chimu and Persian people shared the ability to build efficient water transportation systems to survive in the desert.

But despite those similarities, Chan Chan had its own identity. We can see it on the geometrical and animal figures decorating every corner. That is why it is a unique masterpiece that reflects the identity of an entire culture. Additionally, it is the largest pre-Columbian mud city ever found in South America. That is why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO a few decades ago.

© iStock/DC_Colombia

It is quite interesting to visit Chan Chan, but the discovery of the Chimu culture is not complete without making a stop in the Chan Chan Site Museum because it saves valuable objects made by the Chimu people, and some of them are more curious than you might think.

© iStock/JeremyRichards

Many people visit Peru with their minds focused on the Incas. But, in reality, the Peruvian territory was home to many more cultures. The Chimu is one of them. And its capital, Chan Chan, located in the middle of the ancient Pacific Ocean's Kingdom, is the best place to start discovering it.

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