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El Dorado is a mythical city that is said to be made mostly, if not entirely, of gold. The legend originated when Spanish Conquistadors traveled through Columbia near present day Bogota and heard tales of the Mayan Muisca tribe. One account claims because of the amount of gold in the area he was able to cover himself in gold dust during ritualistic initiation ceremonies thus being named "El Hombre Dorado" or "The Golden Man".Another story claims that the heir to the Mayan throne and his subjects meet at Lake Guatavita. He and his priests disrobe, he is rolled in clay and is also covered in the gold dust. He gets on a raft with four priests and gold and jewels are placed at his feet. Once the raft is sent out into the middle of the lake, he throws the gold and jewels into the lake as a sacrifice. He is then the new pronounced the new king.
Even though the Conquistadors found there to be no such riches in the lake or surrounding area, they continued to search for the city, propagating the legend throughout the lands.Once the legend reached Spain, treasure hunters set there eyes on the "New World" hoping for a chance to find the legendary city. Many unsuccessful treks have been made throughout northern South America from Guyana all the way to southern Columbia.
One of the most well known hunters of El Dorado was Sir Walter Raleigh who, in 1595, set sailed in search of the amazing wealth that the city offered. Although his mission was unsuccessful, Raleigh never lost faith in the existence of the city and he wrote a report that popularized the legend.
Although El Dorado has never been found, those conquistadors brought many riches back to Spain with them but also destroyed multiple cultures in the process.
Many other treasure hunters have searched for the city including:
Don Diego de Ordas
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess
Sir Francis Drake