The Central Andean ceremonial centre of Chavín de Huántar is situated in a dramatic, mountainous and dynamic environment high on the eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes, yet the site's landscape setting has remained in the shadow of its monumental architecture, complex lithic art and highly elaborated material culture. Nevertheless, that dynamic landscape setting was an integral part of the site's significance as a ceremonial centre and may be read as evidence of the capacity, worldview and message of the site's builders. First, Chavín's setting is evidence of capacity, demonstrating the considerable degree of labour mobilization and organization, as well as expertise, implied by the site's modified landscape. Second, Chavín's landscape, considered in its Central Andean context, provides evidence of worldview, demonstrating that landscape setting was a medium of interest for Chavín's designers. Third, the modified landscape provides evidence of message, allowing exploration of what Chavín's designers were trying to communicate, and to whom. Focusing on these three aspects in reading Chavín's landscape suggests that landscape setting was a vital aspect of Central Andean Middle and Late Formative Period (1000–500 bce) ceremonial centres and argues that emergent elites actively exploited landscape setting as a communicative medium and forum for dissemination of ideology, deliberately communicating to multiple audiences.