Tsunamis, oceanic wave events that are most often triggered by earthquakes at interplate subduction areas, result in damaged infrastructure, ecological disruption and a substantial number of deaths among coastal communities. In recent years, a key concept in the assessment of tsunami events has been resilience, which can be understood as the ability of a group to anticipate risk, limit negative impacts and recover rapidly from a catastrophic event through processes of survival, adaptability, evolution and growth. The term resilience incorporates a dynamic and durable connotation of constant preparedness, not only for the next tsunami event but also for the ensuing process of reconstruction. The reconstruction of a community devastated by a tsunami poses a multiplicity of challenges, including environmental, social, political, scientific, engineering and architectural challenges. In this paper, we first examine a 1746 tsunami event (Mw9.0) that occurred on the coast of Viceroyalty-era Peru and consider the challenges reported during the subsequent reconstruction of a devastated city and port. We contrast those challenges, reported nearly 250 years ago, with analogous challenges observed in more recent tsunami events. The paper concludes with comments on the lessons learned and suggests areas of future research.