Ciudad Perdida

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Central holy place of Ciudad Perdida

Ciudad Perdida ( Spanish Lost City ; also Teyuna (indigenous name) and Buritaca-200 (archaeological name)) is located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia and, along with Machu Picchu, is one of the largest rediscovered pre-Columbian cities in South America .

location and size

Ciudad Perdida (Magdalena)
Ciudad Perdida
Ciudad Perdida
Localization of Magdalena in Colombia
Location of Ciudad Perdida in Magdalena

The ruined city is located approx. 40 km southeast of Santa Marta in the middle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the upper valley of the Río Buritaca, covers an area of ​​approx. 2 km² and consists of around 200 oval and round terraces, some of which are steep and some through level stone paths are connected with each other, whereby the height difference of the individual terraces is up to twelve meters. The part of the city exposed today is between 900 and 1200  m above sea level. NN .


Most of the city was built between the 11th and 16th centuries , although the actual origins are older. The estimated population size at weddings was 2,000–8,000 members of the Tairona indigenous people , who had to give up the city shortly after the arrival of the Spaniards because of the spread of epidemics. The Spaniards themselves never entered the city despite trading with the Tairona.

It was not until 1975 that the “lost city” was rediscovered and plundered by grave robbers . Thereafter, during the boom (1960-1980) of cannabis sativa in the region, marijuana was grown on the platforms of the city . A year later, the Colombian government sent an archaeological expedition to protect the city from further destruction. Today there is a permanent archaeological base in the city. A small part of the remaining finds can be seen in Cartagena in the Museo de Oro and in Santa Marta in the Museo de Oro there.


Accommodation on the footpath to Ciudad Perdida

The central square, which is considered sacred to the Kogi and Arhuaco , who now live in the Sierra , is used as a landing pad for helicopters despite violent protests from the Kogi. For decades, helicopters regularly landed here to transport tourists. After studies showed that this would damage the archaeological structure, take-offs and landings of helicopters for tourist purposes were banned in 2010; The ban does not apply to helicopters belonging to the army, which are permanently guarding the site. Camping in tents was also forbidden on the site.

Since the ban on helicopter landings, tourists can only reach Ciudad Perdida on a four- to six-day trekking tour booked through agencies with licensed guides. The costs for this are the equivalent of around 300 euros (as of 2019) per person. Of this, an amount of around 13 euros (50,000 COP ) goes to the indigenous people living there. The approx. 22 km long walk to the abandoned city leads through the jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The route crosses tropical rainforests and, at higher altitudes, cloud forests, and partly follows the valley of the Buritaca River. Crossing it several times can be very difficult during the rainy season, and the sometimes steep paths are often muddy and slippery. Overall, the trek is considered to be moderately difficult.

Political situation in the region

The region is a declared indigenous land by the Colombian government. Nevertheless, the development by settlers who live around the Sierra Nevada continues to expand. The indigenous people are forced to withdraw further and further into the mountains. Much of the Sierra Nevada is under the control of the FARC guerrilla group . While at the end of 1999 groups of visitors were still able to pass unmolested FARC checkpoints on their way to Ciudad Perdida and tour guides assured that there had been agreements between the organizers and the guerrillas, in September 2003 a group of tourists was kidnapped by the guerrilla group ELN on their way to Ciudad Perdida . However, the group was on a hike in the Sierra Nevada and not in the immediate area of ​​the archaeological monument. The security situation has eased significantly in the past few years, especially in the area where the provinces of Magdalena and La Guajira meet, so that a visit to Ciudad Perdida itself is possible (as of April 2011). The Colombian military is also patrolling the route (as of April 2011).

Web links

Commons : Ciudad Perdida  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Helicopter to Ciudad Perdida (English)
  2. Military helicopters (English)
  3. The Ciudad Perdida trek over times and today (English)

Coordinates: 11 ° 2 ′  N , 73 ° 56 ′  W