Built 600 years before Machu Picchu, the ancient city of Chan Chan is a less-visited site that’s even more mysterious.

 Located on Peru’s northwestern coast, the long-abandoned desert metropolis of Chan Chan has kept its secrets from archaeologists. Who were these people who meticulously planned the streets winding through plazas, built royal burial platforms, and carved intricate and still-crisp images of local birds, rodents, fish, and turtles on sandstone walls? Newly excavated areas are opening to the public all the time, but increasingly frequent storms threaten to wash away Chan Chan’s delicate walls, making this a site to visit sooner rather than later. Chan Chan is on the outskirts of the city of Trujillo, an hour’s flight from Lima. Two-day entrance tickets are $3.

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