Ciudad Perdida: Uncovering Ancient Secrets Of The Enigmatic “Lost City”

Posted: December 15, 2012 by phaedrap1 in Monuments, News
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Hidden in the middle of the jungle, archaeologists are trying to uncover ancient secrets of Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City.

It is a place that has remained unknown to most of the outside world for centauries and even today, very few people are aware of its existence.

Ciudad Perdida, Spanish for “Lost City,” is one of Colombia’s most spectacular cultural heritage sites.

The “Lost City ” was inhabited by the Tayrona people until the end of the 16th century and tucked away within the lush jungles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta not far from the Colombian coastline.

Ciudad Perdida, is made up of hundreds of stone terraces and rings, which archaeologists believe were used as foundations for temples, dwellings and plazas.


Ciudad Perdida is situated atop a mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a UNESCO-inscribed Biosphere Reserve. Photo: poirpom/flickr


Although the Tayrona built more than 250 towns across a 2,000 square mile area, few are as large or as impressive as Ciudad Perdida, which is believed to have been a regional center of political, social and economic power, home to around 3,000 people.


After diseases introduced by the Spanish forced the Tayrona to abandon the city, it was forgotten until 1975, when looters accidentally rediscovered the site in their search for pre-Columbian treasures.It was taken over in 1976 by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH), which began clearing forest and researching the site.

In 2009, GHF began working in partnership with ICANH to preserve Ciudad Perdida’s ancient features and to engage the local communities as major stakeholders in the site’s sustainable development.

In August this year, the growing global interest in Ciudad Perdida provided the lead story for CCTV’s Americas Now, an international broadcast news magazine.


View of the center area of Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”) in north-eastern Colombia. Image credit: Wanderingstan

The program followed a tour group led by Dr. Santiago Giraldo, Director of GHF’s Colombia Heritage Program, as they trekked to the Lost City. Along the way, they met members of the Kogi indigenous tribe – descendants of the Tayrona – who are helped by the Tayrona Foundation for Archaeological and Environmental Research (FIAAT), which Dr. Giraldo helped to establish.

“What we would like, with the indigenous community and the peasant community, is to keep things at a manageable level, so that they have better livelihoods, but it does not get out of hand,” Dr. Giraldo said.


A boulder with carved markings, believed to be a map of the area around Ciudad Perdida. Image credit:

Among those in the tour group featured on Americas Now was Dr. Barra O’Dannabhain, an archaeologist from the University College Cork in Ireland.

It was his first visit to the site, which he called one of the most impressive he’s ever seen. He insisted on the need to conserve it.


Ciudad Perdida has remained unknown to the outside world for a very long time. Image credit: Rutacol

“This has a relevance beyond Colombia,” he said, “because the story of Ciudad Perdida is of a vibrant, impressive culture that was wiped out by contact with Europeans…

We owe it to the dead generations, and also to their descendants who still inhabit the area today, to tell more about the story of what happened there.” based on information provided by Global Heritage Fund


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