When planning to travel Peru, consider adding Chavin de Huantar to your list, especially if you enjoy historical sites.
Chavin de Huantar, built somewhere around 1000 BC, if not earlier, holds us mystified! Located 250 kilometers north of Lima in the Peruvian Andes, the site is a major cause for archaeological inquiry. Chavin is one of both the earliest and the most famous pre-Columbian sites in Peru.
Chavin is an enormous temple structure created out of rectangular stone blocks. The U-shaped ceremonial courtyard faces east and is based around an elevated rock platform. It was likely dedicated to powerful spirits, considered to control weather and meteorological events. The main temple is a rectangular shape with two projections east. The southwest appendage, called the Castillo, is an enormous, pyramid-like structure with a platform once decorated with gargoyles. Chavin’s plaza, called the sunken plaza, was where thousands of pilgrims are thought to have gathered during important events and holidays.
There are also two entrances that lead to a series of underground passages and subterranean chambers. The passage on the right leads down to an underground chamber, containing the awe-inspiring Lanzón, a prism-shaped 4.5m block of carved white granite that tapers down from a broad feline head to a point stuck in the ground. The entrance on the left takes you into the labyrinthine inner chambers, which run underneath the Castillo on several levels connected by ramps and steps. In the seven major subterranean rooms, you might want a light to get a decent look at the carvings and the granite sculptures (even when the electric lighting is switched on), while all around you can hear the sound of water dripping.
Its galleries, pillars, and obelisks contain bas-relief carvings throughout. Chavin showcases important aspects of decorative art and construction technologies of the time. Coated quarry stone buildings and terraced plazas throughout the site have intricate networks of vents and drains that are unseen elsewhere in South America. A complicated complex of terraces, squares, and stone, the entire site is full of ornamentation. Detailed anthropomorphic and zoomorphic symbolism and iconography decorate the structures and stones throughout Chavin. Monumental lithic art make the site extremely unique in the world.
It is suggested that Chavin was a major ceremonial and religious pilgrimage center for its namesake Chavin cult. Experts believe that people from throughout the Peruvian region would come to Chavin, making it an important center of cultural and religious discussion and cooperation.