Chan Chan is a huge archaeological site in the harsh desert of coastal Peru, near the mouth of the Moche River. The city served as the capital of the Chimu Empire, and around 1400 AD it may have had 60,000 inhabitants. It was built almost entirely of mud, probably the largest city ever built without stone or wood. But it must have been a very strange place.
There are in Chimu two distinctly different kinds of space. Much of the area was taken up by ten huge, walled compounds the Spanish called ciudelas. The biggest of these measures 220,000 square meters, or 54 acres. They included enormous empty courtyards, vast audience chambers, and other extravagant wastes of real estate.