Does the City of Gold Really Exist? The Legend of El Dorado

The legend of El Dorado is one of the longest-standing mysteries in the world. But does it hold some truth to it, or is it just another local lore conjured by imaginative minds?

The Hundred-Year Legend of Gold 

The legend of El Dorado refers to a lost city of gold assumed to be located somewhere in South America. While it remains undiscovered to this day, treasure hunters and historians continue their search.

Does the City of Gold Exist? The Legend of El Dorado

Ever since the beginning of the legend during the 1500s, there are already thousands of people including explorers, archaeologists, and opportunists who tried to look for the city of gold in different locations all over Latin America through the centuries. 

But where does this legend come from in the first place? What has been uncovered through all those searches?

The Beginning of a Golden Legend

Central Colombia’s tribe has been in existence since 800 AD. The tribe considered El Dorado as the representation of their tribal chief. Ancient texts and research reveal that Colombia’s El Dorado was never originally regarded as a city of gold in the first place. 

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Spanish accounts of the stories and archaeological evidence show that during ceremonies of initiation, the chief of the tribe was covered in gold dust and rode a raft that took him to the middle of Lake Guatavita. Once he reached the center, he would throw gems and precious golden items as offerings to the gods.

Does the City of Gold Exist? The Legend of El Dorado

Other accounts of this story state the chief had lots of gold. He would use gold dust to cover himself and submerge himself in the lake together with the golden treasure. It would appease the gods, granting the tribe with harmony and balance within the tribe itself and in the environment. 

The stories reached the Spanish explorers and their greed overpowered them. El Dorado’s seductive tale would soon become generally known as any unexplored treasured-filled area somewhere in the Americas. 

What is interesting is that in 1545, the Spaniards hungry for gold tried draining Lake Guatavita. While there were able to remove a substantial amount of gold. However, they weren’t able to get to the trove that was believed to exist in the lake’s deepest parts. 

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Is El Dorado on the Map? 

Numerous explorers claimed to have found El Dorado in the 1500s. It was once assumed that Sir Walter Raleigh discovered the city of gold at the end of the 1500s. This was listed on the English maps and described as a location found in the north. The location was considered significant until this was proven otherwise by Alexander von Humbolt in the 1800s when he explored South America. 

The Quest for El Dorado in the Modern Times 

It was in 2000 when one modern attempt to search for El Dorado was made. The Monastery of Santo Domingo looked for underground Incan tunnels. While they didn’t find anything concrete, it was interesting that the radar showed what seemed to be the entrance to a huge tunnel below the Monastery. 

In 2001, another recent attempt to find and debunk El Dorado’s myth occurred. Mario Polia, an Italian archaeologist, found a document that dates back to the 1600s which described a city that could have been El Dorado. This was supposedly located in Peru in an area called Paratoari.

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It seems like there may be some manmade structures there when viewed from the air. The tools discovered in the area also suggest the remnants of civilization. However, the terrain made it challenging to conduct additional voyages, making the quest for El Dorado too expensive. 

To this day, El Dorado remains undiscovered. If the city did exist or was only a mere legend is a question yet to be answered.


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