Probably each of us has heard the story about this mythical, wealthy city / kingdom. However, not everyone knows when exactly the term El Dorado was created, what is the dark side of his search and the blindness associated with it, or how deeply it is rooted in contemporary pop culture.
Let’s go back a few hundred years to the beginning of the 16th century. After Columbus reached the New World, the expansion of the Spanish Empire sped up, especially in South America, in what is now Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Guyana and Brazil. The presence of the Spaniards in this area and its increased exploration was largely related to the story they heard about El Hombre Dorado (Golden Man) or El Rey Dorado (Golden King). Several decades before the first European ship landed on the shores of the newly discovered continent, there was a ritual with consequences in the modern Northern Andes. The leader of the Muisca tribe, previously covered with gold dust, washed it in Lake Guatavitá, while his subordinates threw into him richly decorated gold and platinum items and precious stones – all as part of the initiation of the newly elected leader. Of course, the information about this custom reached the conquistadors, who scoured the whole area and tried for years to extract valuables from the bottom of the lake (usually with disastrous results). Although the myth of Eldorado has evolved over time and its locations have changed, the story of the initiation of the chiefzips and riches of the Indians marks the beginning of an insane expedition.
A dazzling glow of gold
Why did the Spaniards believe in the existence of this mythical place for so long? It seems that they were not satisfied with plundering local residents; they could not accept the fact that gold in South America did not grow on trees and that it had a completely different value for the local population. The empire of King Charles V of Habsburg could not pay off the enormous state debts. Gold was the currency and the search for it (as a scarce material) was a priority. The conquistadors who came to the New World could not believe that this so-called The “king of metals” is not the same as it is for the people of Europe. Where in the Old Continent this yellow metal opened all doors, in the lands of the Inca, Maya or Muisca it served as an easy-to-process material for decoration. The Indians did not use cash, barter was in force – hence the Spaniards could not grasp the level of ignorance of gold and preferred to believe that the tribes had enormous resources of gold, but refused to say where to find it. Logical, right? An interesting fact about all this is that gold blinded prospectors so much that they did not care for other valuable minerals, such as, for example, very rare platinum (also often used by the local population). And so the myth continued, locations and details changed… and only people were still dying in search of the nonexistent. Even though nowadays nobody believes in a city / kingdom all covered with gold, it has firmly taken root in our art and pop culture. that gold blinded prospectors so much that they did not care for other valuable minerals, such as, for example, very rare platinum (also often used by the local population). And so the myth continued, locations and details changed … and only people were still dying in search of the nonexistent. Even though nowadays nobody believes in a city / kingdom all covered with gold, it has firmly taken root in our art and pop culture. that gold blinded prospectors so much that they did not care for other valuable minerals, such as, for example, very rare platinum (also often used by the local population). And so the myth continued, locations and details changed … and only people were still dying in search of the nonexistent. Even though nowadays nobody believes in a city / kingdom all covered with gold, it has firmly taken root in our art and pop culture.
El Dorado TV Tropes
Inspirations by the Golden City and attempts to transfer the myth can be found in many cultural texts. From books, comics, animated and fictional films to games and music. Just type a search on the Internet for “El Dorado-tropes” and you will see a wealth of results. I will focus on a few stories that I think deserve a recommendation.
Mysterious Golden Cities
If you were born in the 1980s or watched RTL7, this is an anime that you surely know. This extraordinary Franco-Japanese cooperation interested me in the past and the myths of Latin America, with the title Golden Cities woven together as a recurring theme. In addition to focusing on the fate of the three main characters (Esteban, Mendoza and Zia), the animation presented in an accessible way other curiosities and mysterious places as well as architectural curiosities (such as Machu Picchu or Drawings from Nazca) that fascinate both kids and adults. Let’s add a beautiful, catchy opening and brick nostalgia – I still feel it today!
Road to El Dorado
Ah! What a delightful animated film from DreamWorks! Everything was fine for me. There is great animation, music and an interesting story of two thieves who end up in the Golden City and become gods in the eyes of local residents. The myth of El Dorado as a place dripping with gold (inhabited by friendly Indians who do not know its value) has been pulled to the limit. The whole thing has been treated with humor as well as moral because it shows that wealth is really worthless if you lose friends. Pride and self-interest will ultimately lead to defeat.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Although the fourth part of the adventures of “Indi” is not very successful in my opinion, it combines the myth of the golden land (called in the movie Akator) with … aliens! If a little more attention had been paid to the thread of Indians and extraterrestrials, and the focus had been on a more grounded storyline (rather than lame special effects) it could have been a lot better!
The Lost City of Z
Even though the search for the Golden City at the beginning of the 19th century did not make any sense historically, there was a researcher who still believed in them. It was Percy Fawcett, a member of the Royal Geographical Society. Instead of Eldorado, he called it the Lost City of Z and spent many years of his life searching for it. The fate of the traveler and of the last expedition (which also included his firstborn son) is still shrouded in mystery. It is not known whether Fawcett was killed by tribes living in the Amazon or admitted to their group by force, but years later this character also entered pop culture. It is said that he was the inspiration for the creation of Indiana Jones, a book was written about him, and in 2016 a movie – The Lost City of Z– which I sincerely recommend. He is not so optimistic and out of touch with reality. It shows the hardships of exploring the so far unexplored lands, the burden of the researcher’s responsibility and his obsession, which, unfortunately, leads to a sad end. We must add a star cast (Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland), which makes the viewer really care about the fate of discoverers.
A comic twist
The Indian Tramp deserves a special recommendation from the newest “El Dorad” creations . This freshly published by Egmont has already been hailed by many as the best comic of 2020. I rarely say that something is the coolest or that I liked it the most, but here I have to admit that the critics and readers are right – it’s a veeeeeeery good comic and the BEST one I’ve read this year. The creator of Włóczęga is Juanjo Guarnido, previously involved in the great Blacksad series- which in itself should encourage you to reach for this position. In the latest work, the whole thing revolves around the changing fate of Don Pablos of Segovia, a man from the lowlands, who is once at the bottom, sometimes gains praise and wealth, but all the time plots his evil plan to stay at the top as long as possible. To achieve his goal, he goes to Latin America, then known as India. The driving force behind his actions is “selling” a credible story about El Dorado and convincing the magnates to it. The Golden City, as befits the Golden City, drips with ore in the stories of Don Pablos. What is most interesting, however, is everything that is happening around – what the settlements in Latin America look like, how the magnates live, how the local population and slaves try to cope – in a word, the multifaceted and multifaceted approach to those times. I will not reveal how this story ends, because it is not obvious and has many clever twists. Therefore, I sincerely encourage you to read the comic and see for yourself – because it is conducted neatly and witty. And if someone still doesn’t feel encouraged, I will add that it is also beautifully drawn. Each page is a small work, you can look at it like pictures. The experience is additionally strengthened by the first-league edition – in a large, hardcover. I recommend it a hundred times! The experience is additionally strengthened by the first-league edition – in a large, hardcover. I recommend it a hundred times! The experience is additionally strengthened by the first-league edition – in a large, hardcover. I recommend it a hundred times!
Wealth of wealth
As you can see, there is a lot of inspiration for the Golden City – the above is just the tip of the (golden) iceberg. There are many examples. However, I hope these few of these items are interesting enough to encourage you to explore the motives and stories of the Eldorado further. By writing this article, I awoke a lot of my nostalgia. I hope that I managed to kindle it, also in those who survived until the end of my discussions.
“This is an amazing city
It is a great work of divine hands,
it is a gift that fell from heaven to us
This is a piece of paradise
Peace and harmony in it is a gesture
Towards the deadly
You already know
That it’s El Dorado
A city that shines with gold
A castle from a thousand years ago