El Dorado – The Mystery Behind Legendary City Of Gold

El Dorado

El Dorado was a mythical city that was initially recognized in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and was purported to be wealthy in gold. Although several accounts contest the rumored location of El Dorado. It is most frequently claimed to have been in South America.

El Dorado was sought after by many explorers and people in search of wealth and prosperity. However, rather than being a single, established place, El Dorado was actually a composite of various tales.

El Dorado is described as a man in some tales and as a lake or a valley in others. The legend of El Dorado had been around for three centuries by 1835. Its origin and the existence of an actual city of gold are still up for debate.

Origins Of El Dorado

One of the most well-known El Dorado origin tales was first referenced when Juan de Castellanos, which was most likely composed in the 1570s and chronicled Spanish heroics in the Americas.

The narrative concerns the chief of a Muisca tribe that lived on a sizable plateau in what is now Colombia. The conquistadors called it Cundinamarca, high in the eastern range of the Andes, according to the World History Encyclopedia.

The moniker “el dorado,” which translates to “the golden one,” comes from the legend that once a year. The chief would cover himself with turpentine and gold dust from head to toe.

Castellanos claimed that the chief rode a boat into the center of Lake Guatavita, a little, nearly circular lake carved out of the mountain. As the leader offered gold and emeralds to the lake, his followers watched and sang aloud. The event officially started when he dove in.

No one has ever reported seeing this rite. About 40 or 50 years before the arrival of the Spanish, it was rumored to have been abandoned. When the Spanish first met it, it was already a memorial tradition, even as described above.

Alternative origin Story

The second version of the El Dorado origin tale first appeared in 1541. Eight years after Francisco Pizarro had killed the Incan emperor Atahualpa and about 20 years after Cortez had subdued the Aztecs. The Spanish had not yet explored a great deal of the continent at this time. Therefore the majority of the area was still uncharted by Europeans.

In the writings of a conquistador by the name of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. There is an account of the myth of El Dorado from 1541, which takes place in Quito, in northern Ecuador. This region had just been accepted as part of the Spanish invasion to exterminate the Incas.

El Dorado, according to Oviedo, was a “great lord or monarch [who] constantly goes about covered with gold… as fine as ground salt; for it is his opinion that to wear any other adornment is less beautifying… but to powder one’s self with gold is an extraordinary thing, unusual and new, and more expensive.”

Pizarro’s Search For El Dorado

Gonzales Pizarro, a different Spanish conquistador, collected a small group of soldiers in February 1541 and left Quito, Ecuador, in pursuit of the fabled kingdom of El Dorado. Pizarro refers to El Dorado in his own descriptions of his journey as a lake rather than a person. A third contemporary source describes the exact same journey. The chronicler Pedro de Cieza de León refers to El Dorado as a valley.

With between 220 and 340 conquistadors and 4,000 local servants, Pizarro left Quito and traveled east. Along with horses, llamas, 2,000 hogs, and a comparable number of hunting dogs. They had all been kept in chains and shackles. 

Pizarro anticipated quickly coming across civilization, including wide-open spaces, tilled fields, towns, and villages. Instead, when traveling for weeks or months through the rainy season’s darkness of the rainforest, across mountains, marshes, and rivers. He only encountered hardship, famine, and misery, to use the words of Cieza de León.

El Dorado
El Dorado
Mystery Behind The Search

In December 1541, Francisco de Orellana, one of Pizarro’s troops, offered to volunteer to take the boat and about fifty men in search of food and return. He promised Pizarro that he would “bring back foodstuffs as quickly as possible.” Food was found by Orellana, but he never came back.

According to the book “Expeditions into the Valley of the Amazons”, he and his soldiers instead discovered the Amazon. Which they knew as the Maraón, and they rode its length for months before arriving at the Atlantic on August 26, 1542. Orellana asserted that he was forced to go on.

The German Conquistadors

The first overt attempt to locate El Dorado was made by Pizarro. However, when word of the golden country spread, more conquistadors started to assert that their expeditions into the interior had been undertaken in search of it.

According to Jose Ignacio Avellaneda’s essay “The Men of Nikolaus Federmann(opens in new tab),” this is illustrated by the tale of Sebastian de Benalcázar, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, and Nikolaus Federmann. Nikolaus Federmann’s presence among the conquistadors in Colombia demonstrates that, despite the fact that the vast majority of them were Spanish. The situation is more nuanced than is typically believed.

Poor Spanish men from Andalusia, Castile, and Extremadura made up the majority of the average conquistador party. They traveled to Seville before continuing to San Lcar de Barrameda, where most expeditions to South America started.

However, there were also Dutch, Fleming, German, Italian, Albanian, English, Scots, and other people in this group. The Germans were by far the most noticeable of these during parts of the 1530s.

End Note

According to the book “Man’s Worldly Goods” (Hesperides, 2008). The emperor Charles V owed the Welser banking dynasty of Augsburg 143,000 florins in 1528. Due to his inability to pay, Charles granted them the province of Venezuela instead, holding 20% of any loot and the same percentage of slaves for himself. This situation persisted until 1546. Federmann’s expedition was just one of many German-led ones that traveled around the area at this time. It includes George Hohermuth and Philip von Hutten.

Around 405 pounds (184 kilograms) of gold were amassed by one of the first. It was led by Ambrosius Ehinger, primarily through extortion and brutality. Almost everyone involved, including Ehinger, lost their lives as a result of this. After spending two years apart, the survivors confessed they had hidden the treasure under a tree, where it had remained hidden ever since.

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