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Trujillo, La Libertad, Peru

The ancient capital of the Chimú Kingdom, Chan Chan is the largest earthen architecture complex in the Americas. Spanning approximately 20 square kilometers in the desert landscape of the Valley of Moche in northern Peru, it is a masterpiece of urban design with rigorous zoning and differentiated use of living spaces, reflecting a clear hierarchical construction based on a social and political ideal. The city thrived for over six centuries and was abandoned after the Inca conquered the area in the late fifteenth century. The archaeological site has been the focus of research and conservation for several decades and is also a venue for education, recreation, and tourism.

Chan Chan was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986, and added to the List of World Heritage in Danger the same year. As a vast archaeological site near one of the most populated cities in Peru, urban encroachment and illegal farming have persistently threatened the fragile earthen remains. Historically, resources have been invested in the study and conservation of Chan Chan, but there is a need to manage more effectively the buffer zone and the surrounding huacas, which have been thus far neglected. Integrative planning and design around the site perimeter could better protect Chan Chan from the negative impacts of illegal development while allowing enhanced public use of the area.

In WMF Journal

Download a 2014 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).

World Monuments Fund



Hundreds of students from local and regional schools in Trujillo gathered at the Archaeology Museum of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo to participate in an art competition for Chan Chan’s Watch Day on June 16, 2015. The aim of the event was to raise awareness among the new generations of the need to protect and manage the archaeological site’s buffer zone against littering and encroachment. Watch Day helped promote an educational campaign among local and regional schools, teachers, parents, and children, encouraging them to learn and investigate about Chan Chan, its past, its legacy, and the challenges it is facing. Through drawing and painting, participants expressed their vision for the future of this area and the local identity. The event was widely covered by the local and regional media.

In the Media:
World Monuments Fund convoca a concurso de pintura para colegiales en Trujillo

Chan Chan
Adobe ruins at Chan Chan, with walls that are thought to represent fishing nets
Chan Chan
An irrigation canal along the perimeter of Huaca Las Conchas strewn with refuse, 2013
Chan Chan
Construction near Huaca Las Conchas, looking towards the southwest, 2013