The Chimu people once had a vast empire that stretched more than 1000 kilometres from southern Ecuador down the coast of Peru. It was built on the remnants fo the Moche culture. Their empire thrived thanks to complicated water works to bring water to the desert, and the abundant seafood off the coast.
At one point, their capital Chan Chan housed over 30,000 inhabitants. That makes it the largest city in the Americas before Europeans arrived. It had been founded in 850 CE, and eventually covered over 20 square kilometers. Chan Chan had grand palaces, public meeting spaces, and of couse lots of houses!
Some of the walls have intricate designs of the things that were important to this culture – so lots of seafood. In the middle of the compound, representing the most important thing of all – water – a large lake was used for aesthetic and ceremonial purposes. Although Chan Chan was a functioning city, the Chimu put great emphasis on art and design and this citadel was one of the ultimate showcases of this.
Today, Chan Chan is under threat — not from the Incans who stormed in and ended the Chimu, or the Spanish who stripped the city of its precious gold and silver — but from the weather. Since Chan Chan is made from mudbrick, it erodes in rain. With changing weather patterns what was once the driest place on earth is getting lots more rain. Peru is trying to protect this once-great city, but UNESCO has named it an at-risk site and the site is so large perfect protection is impossible.