El Dorado: Hopeless myth or hidden wonder?
October 19, 2011 109 view(s)
The folklore surrounding a certain gilded city still draws hopeful adventurers to present-day Colombia. The original legend of El Dorado began in the 16th century when Europeans believed there was a city made of gold hiding in the New World. Native tribes living in the Andes Mountains of present-day Colombia held ceremonies to honor their new chiefs at Lake Guatavita. The leader was covered in gold dust, and at the ceremony, he and other villagers threw gold and jewels into the lake to appease an underwater god. Spaniards called the chief El Dorado, or "the gilded one." After the tribe was defeated, the Spanish believed there was a secret city filled with all their treasures. Though the legend of the city still remains, they never did find a golden colony. They did, however, manage to drain part of Lake Guatativa, where they did find some gold along its edge. The richer treasures, however, are presumed to be deeper in the water, far beyond their reach. Some have even died in their quest for riches. Sir Walter Raleigh, in fact, was executed after his second expedition to El Dorado. King James ordered him beheaded upon returning to England for disobeying orders meant to avoid conflict with the Spanish. Is it true? It has yet to be found out, but the Gilded City has inspired wonder, adventure and literature for hundreds of years. Edgar Allan Poe wrote his poem, El Dorado, in 1849, and the legend has been the subject of various films since. Whatever you choose to believe, one thing is for certain - men will always give into the lure of the treasure hunt.