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Chavin de Huantar: the enigmatic temple of the Peruvian Andes

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Chavin de Huantar: the enigmatic temple of the Peruvian Andes

Among the imposing mountains of the department of Áncash, in Peru, there is an enigmatic place that hides a very important part of pre-Inca history. This is Chavín de Huántar, an archaeological complex built by the Chavín culture, more than 2,200 years ago. Keep reading and you will know all the details of this exciting place.


Pre-Inca architectural jewel, this ceremonial center, more than three thousand years old, is the most important left by the Chavín culture. In its time, it was a great oracle where pilgrims came from various areas of the Andes who worshiped and showed their offerings to the gods.


When touring the temple, the great stone carving work that characterized the Chavín is verified, as can be seen in their particular sculptures. It is even said that Chavín de Huántar inspired the Incas many years later to build the sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Cusco.


Another point that impresses about this destination is that the sacred construction presents a complex network of paths and underground galleries only illuminated by sunlight that enter through small strategically located ducts, which represents a work of engineering of great excellence.


What is Chavin de Huantar?

Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological complex built by the Chavín culture between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and used until 200 BC. C., when it was abandoned. This impressive place is located in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, at the point where the Mosna and Huacheqsa rivers meet.


The archaeological complex of Chavín de Huántar is the most important in the department of Áncash, in central Peru. This great architectural work had two temples, of which some of its parts are still preserved and in which you will find a mysterious network of labyrinths to lose yourself and feel like a true explorer.


In addition, Chavín de Huántar has ancient and very curious sculptures, among which the monolithic sandeel, the Raimondi stele, the Tello obelisk and the nice nail heads stand out. Some works of art that will leave you speechless!


The exciting history of Chavín de Huántar

The Chavín culture spread throughout much of the Peruvian coast between 1200 and 200 BC and established its center in the same place where they built Chavín de Huántar, in the department of Áncash.


Here, the Chavín developed their activities, mainly cultural, and built the magnificent archaeological complex that would lead them to be remembered and studied for centuries and centuries.


Chavín de Huántar, the great work of art of the Chavín, had one main task: to be one of the most important oracles in the entire country. Residents from different parts of Peru arrived here daily, who made their requests and offerings to the gods.


Among all the deities of Chavín de Huántar, one stood out: the monolithic sandeel, a spear-shaped sculpture carved in granite and measuring more than four meters high. In addition, the monolithic sandeel has three faces on which human and animal features are engraved. Now, to visit the monolithic sandeel, you will have to enter narrow and dark tunnels that give the deity a more mysterious touch.


In its heyday, Chavín de Huántar was made up of different buildings: the new temple, the old temple, the Tello pyramid, the circular plaza, the sunken rectangular plaza, the left arm and the right arm.


Nowadays, although many of these constructions have been partially lost, the magnificent work of the archaeologists has made it possible for you to feel the grandeur of this place when you step foot in Chavín de Huántar and imagine what day-to-day life was like in this place.


In addition, the Chavín culture built a large number of underground tunnels here that hide many secrets to this day. So much so that just a year ago, in August 2018, the latest discovery in the complex was made: a series of underground corridors that hid various ceramic objects. Imagine everything that remains to be discovered in Chavín de Huántar!


Chavín de Huántar became a totally abandoned place in the year 200 BC, coinciding with the disappearance of the Chavín culture. But, luckily, the history of this complex came to light again thanks, mainly, to the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello.


Some researchers, such as the Italian Antonio Raimondi, who was the discoverer of the Raimondi stele, showed their interest in this place several centuries ago, but the complex was poorly cared for and explored. However, with the arrival of Tello, Chavín de Huántar began to flourish again.


Exactly 100 years ago, in 1919, while a road was being built, a nail head was discovered. This attracted archaeologists from all over the country, including Tello. Thus, the investigations of this place began, which have allowed us to learn a little more about this wonderful archaeological complex and all the secrets of the Chavín culture every day.


How to get to Chavin de Huantar?

To get to Chavín de Huántar, the first thing you have to do is travel from Lima to Huaraz. This journey is made by buses daily and lasts 8 hours, the perfect time to travel overnight and sleep on the comfortable buses in Peru.


Once in Huaraz, you will have to travel by car to the archaeological center, located 3 hours from the city. We recommend you visit this place on our Chavín de Huantar tour, in which we will take you from Huaraz to the archaeological complex, making stops at other points of interest, such as the spectacular Chavín National Museum and with the company of a specialized guide. Chavín de Huántar has so many secrets that you won't want to miss a single detail!


Price, schedules and recommendations to visit Chavín de Huántar

  • Hours: Chavín de Huántar opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. m. to 4:00 p.m. m.
  • Price: the price of general admission to Chavín de Huántar is S/ 15 (approximately 4.5 dollars). However, the complex offers discounts for students (S/ 7 – US$ 2) and for children (S/ 4 – US$ 1.2).


Although Chavín de Huántar is open throughout the year, the best time to visit is from April to October, since during this season there is less rainfall.


To complete your visit to Chavín de Huántar, don't forget to visit the Chavín National Museum, located two kilometers north of the archaeological complex. Here you will find a large collection of ceramic and stone pieces and, most strikingly, several of the famous nail heads (only one remains in the archaeological complex).


Huaraz's weather can be unstable, so we recommend bringing both a raincoat and a sun hat.


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If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Entrance Tickets in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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