El Dorado - The Mythical City of Gold

El Dorado, the mythical city of Gold is said to be located somewhere in South America. The story of the existence of this city has its basis in a South American legend that was first told to the Spaniards by the natives in the early 15th century. Since then many people have searched for this mysterious city, but no one has succeeded in finding it yet.

The legend of this city first began in 1537, when Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada discovered the Muisca nation high in the Andes Mountains of Columbia. The natives there told him of an ancient ceremony that took place around Lake Guativata. In this ceremony, the heir to the chief would have to perform a special ritual in this area. The villagers would build a raft of rushes, decorate it and place four lighted braziers on the corners. The heir would be stripped of his clothing and coated in a sticky substance and then covered with gold dust that stuck to his skin. He along with the chief and other high ranking officials would then stand on the raft. All of these officials would be decorated with golden objects. Once the raft reached the middle of the lake all the gold would be thrown in.

As soon as de Quesada returned to Quinto with this tale, the Spaniards immediately set out to find the city. They believed that the bottom of this lake was filled with gold, which they called El Dorado. They did make unsuccessful attempts to drain the lake.

The early Conquistadors were not the only ones to search for this city. Through the centuries since then many have searched in vain. They are not sure of the location of the village where this legend was first told because the maps of the 15th century explorers were not always accurate and many landforms have changed over the centuries. Kings have ordered expeditions to find this gold. Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the people sent out by the King of England on an expedition. Some fortune hunters have decided the city was located in the jungle and were never heard from again.