After Christopher Columbus set foot in what we know today as the Dominican Republic, the Spanish pushed their ships to find new lands once they realized it was not India they had arrived at. From this new world amazing stories and legends started emerging that lured conquerors seeking favor, tittles and riches. La Leyenda Del Dorado – El Dorado Legend, drove hard the conquest through Colombia. The Gold Museum and El Dorado Legend Come To Life in the heart of Colombia. This has always been one of my favorite myths, and I must say I love visiting this museum.
On the occasion of Columbus day, October 14th, we wanted to bring to the forefront an amazing museum that is sure to dazzle you with all its brilliance and bling. We are talking about the Museo del Oro – Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia. Created in 1939, it is the largest of its kind in the world. Here you will marvel at the workmanship of exquisite gold pieces like breastplates, masks, pendants, earrings, vase-like items called poporos among others. One visit there and you will ignite your explorer spirit as well as appreciate distant in time way of life traditions.
When the Spanish arrived in what is known to day as Colombia, many were pursuing the Leyenda del Dorado which tells about native tribes so rich that for their ceremonies they covered themselves in powder gold and would go to the center of the lake to wash off the gold and offer golden objects and emeralds to the god of the sacred lake. The lake they were referring to is called the Laguna de Guatavita near Bogotá and the ‘rich’ tribe is the proud Muiscas. Every time I heard or read about the legend as a child, I kept asking my parent to take me to the lake to see if I could put on my anthropologist / archaeologist hat and discover wonderful treasures. I can totally see why the conquest was in earnest for more that two centuries 🙂
With over 55000 pre-Hispanic artifacts of gold and other materials, the Museo del Oro has two extraordinary floors for your to discover.
The first floor is the lobby and general entrance to the museum. On the second floor, the country is regionally divided to showcase the different uses of the golden artifacts. You will definitely find many animal combinations like jaguar/ frogs or eagle/man items on display. I particularly enjoyed learning the important religious role the women of the Sinú tribe had in the northern region of the country. Textile, pottery,stone, shell and wood items are also on display at the museum.
The third floor focuses and explains the importance of gold in the different tribal rituals.
Personally I was taken and impressed by a small room you enter where the walls are covered with panels. Once in the room, a heavy door is locked and the lights are dimmed. Then, the wall panels are removed to reveal a majestic collection of figurines that are both impressive and glow in their own light. Overall the museum is unlike any I have visited and a very enriching one for adults and kids alike. At the Gold Museum you absorb culture and see these pre -Hispanic cultures in a totally different light.
After research, investigation and many studies, it was concluded that the El Dorado Legend was indeed a reality. The leader of the tribe or Cacique had to undergo the gold ritual as a rite of passage when he was ready to become the tribe’s leader. It also symbolized a way of the people asking for forgiveness for the past Cacique’s sins and start fresh a new government. Research also shows that this practice had long stop before the Spanish arrived in South America. Still that doesn’t take away from waking up the discovery spirit!
If you are in the city, you can’t miss out on visiting The Gold Museum which incidentally, just the start of what Bogotá has to offer!
Had you heard before about the Museo del Oro or the El Dorado leyend?