The Chavin are considered to be one of the most influential people to have lived in the Andes prior to the Incas (who arrived some 2000 years later). They were certainly one of the most sophisticated.
The site contains a large central square, slightly sunken below ground level, with an intricate system of channels for drainage. Much of the site comprises a series of underground chambers. A broad staircase leads up from the square to a large pyramid structure called the Castilla. In the heart of the underground complex is the crowning glory of the Chavin religion: a 5m-high carved rock known as the Lanzon. This dagger-like monolith depicts important deities worshipped by the Chavin culture: the Serpent, the Condor and the Feline (jaguar or puma).
Other important artefacts from within the temple, including the Tello Obelisk and the Raymondi Stela, were removed and are now housed at the Museo de la Nacion in Lima.
There is a small museum at the entrance with carvings and some examples of Chavin ceramics.