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Chavin de Huantar
The unique remains of the intricate past of an entire nation, the archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar is a symbol of Peru's ancient northern cultures.
3,185 masl and just three hours from the city of Huaraz, the magical religious center
of Chavin was built in around 327 BC. Its walls are made of stone, while its structures are shaped like pyramids, which has sparked a great deal of controversy over what was the purpose of the complex, whether a temple or a fortress.
The local inhabitants call the site "el castillo" (the castle). The construction features a labyrinthine network of passageways and tunnels lit by strategically-placed skylights. Inside the temple still stands the Lanzon, the 5-meter-high monolith carved into ferocious deities and figures of monstrous beasts. There are also a set of gargoyle heads which once decorated the outer walls of the complex.
Chavin was one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas, contemporary to the Olmecas in Mexico. The culture achieved a remarkable level of skills in agriculture, architecture and pottery, in addition to their administrative capacity. This enabled them to dominate much of the north and central parts of Peru.
This is possibly what made Chavin de Huantar so important: its strategic location as a link between the coast, highlands and jungle. The ruins, discovered in 1919 by Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, are a crucial part of Peru's history.
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