The Legend of El Dorado lives on in Bogotá's fabled Gold Museum
04.02.2015 - 04.02.2015 60 °F
For most the Legend of El Dorado, the Gilded One, is but a myth. In reality, El Dorado is based on a ritual of the Muisca tribe of the Chibcha nation that inhabited the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes making their home in the cool mountain redoubt that is Cundi-Boyacense plateau, the second largest altiplano found in the Andes. At Lake Guatavita, one of the various sacred lakes that lies about an hour northeast of the modern Colombian capital of Bogotá, the Muisca in a ceremony that signified the crowning of a new cacique, a chieftain, in which he was dusted in gold before dipping into the icy waters to cleanse while Indian priests and other celebrants threw gold trinkets and other metallic and stone offerings into the waters.
The Legend of El Dorado drew the Spanish to explore the inland of the South American continent and by 1537, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (also the founder of Santa Fé de Bogotá) had established its location. Much of the gold work was melted down in the intervening centuries and in an effort to save the pre-Hispanic heritage of the country, the Colombian government established the Museo de Oro, the Gold Museum, in 1939. The museum is run by the Banco de la República, Colombia's central bank, and is located off the Plaza Santander (Carrera 6 #15-88) in downtown Bogotá though every major Colombia city has a smaller museum as well.
Within the four story museum (three are open to the public), various galleries display over 55,000 artifacts dating back hundreds to thousands of years. Each gallery is dedicated to major pre-Hispanic civilizations that inhabited present-day Colombia. These are the Tumaco, the Calima, the Quimbaya, the Tolima, the Tierradientro, the Muisca, the Tayrona and the Zenú. The museum is open daily. From Tuesday to Saturday hours run from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Sundays and holidays, the museum is open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. You must be inside the museum an hour before it closes. Admission is about $1.25 USD during the week. It is always free for seniors and children and free for all on Sundays. For more information, please visit the Gold Museum website of the Banco de la República.