After Christopher Columbus set foot in what we know today as the Dominican Republic, the Spanish pushed their ships further. Contrary to initial belief, they did not reach India. They discovered new lands From this new world, amazing stories and legends started emerging that lured conquerors seeking favor, titles 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 native myths.
El Museo Del Oro
There is an amazing museum that is sure to dazzle you with all its brilliance and bling. We are talking about the Museo del Oro – The Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia. It lies in the historical center of this South America capital city. It was created in 1939, and 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 living traditions. It is a great family visit.
The Gold Museum and El Dorado Legend Come To Life
When the Spanish arrived in what is known today as Colombia, many were pursuing the Leyenda del Dorado which tells about native tribes so rich that for their ceremonies they covered themselves in gems and 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. It is a beautiful side excursion near Bogotá if you have time. The ‘rich’ tribe the conquistadors were referring to 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 than two centuries 🙂
An Easy to Navigate Museum
With over 55000 pre-Hispanic artifacts of gold and other materials, the Museo del Oro has two extraordinary floors of items and history for you to discover.
The first floor
is the lobby and general entrance to the museum.
The Second Floor
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 different tribal rituals. Here the art of the Shaman comes to life.
My favorite area in the museum is a small room interactive room. The walls are covered with panels. Once in the room, a heavy door is locked behind you 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.
Cool mom tip: this can be a bit scary for younger or sensitive kids. Reassure them it is only lightening type music and lights out for 3 minutes.
The Fourth floor
The last floor is an interactive one where you can play to learn more about the tribes living the land when the Spanish arrived. Arts and crafts stations are available for the entire family.
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 the culture and see these pre -Hispanic cultures in a totally different light.
El Dorado Legend Was Not a Myth
This will underline your visit further. Consider that after research, investigation and many studies, the conclusion is that 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 a long stopped before the Spanish arrived in South America. Still, that doesn’t take away from waking up the discovery spirit!
If you are in the Bogota, a city that brings you over 3000 feet closer to the stars, you can’t miss out on visiting The Gold Museum.
Had you heard before about the Museo del Oro or the El Dorado legend before?
Don’t miss out on our Pandebono – Colombian cheese bread recipe