Wednesday, July 4, 2012

#967 Cuidad Perdida (Lost City), Santa Marta, Colombia

Only re-discovered by the world in 1974, and named by the grave robbers that found it (who also called it the green hell), it truly is as far into the Colombian wilderness in the Sierra Nevada mountains as you can get without going into the snow line. Infamous for being in an area that has been controlled by guerillas, paramilitaries, the Colombian army, indigenous people, and others, and that is only in it's recent history, it was also the location of a tourist kidnapping in 2002.

Built by the Tayrona people, whose civilization was wiped out by the gold-hungry Spanish conquistadors, the Spanish never made it here. It has been labelled Colombia's Machu Picchu but sees only a handful of people each day, has only 4 people permanently employed at the site as caretakers (with a rotating Colombian army outpost since the kidnapping), and is only accessible via a 3-5 day uphill trek or helicopter.

It is difficult to do the lost city justice in photographs as the majority of the city is hidden under jungle. The few small circles that have been cleared are actually not original as the grave diggers tore them up. Each circle represents a house, which would have been of wood and thatch. Those circles with trees growing in them have not been excavated and could hold a world of gold and other artifacts as families buried their relatives and the gold spirits underneath their homes.

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