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El Dorado

"El Dorado" (Spanish for "the gilded one") is a legend that began with the story of a South American tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust.

The myth began in the 1530s in the Andes of present-day Colombia, where conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada first found the Muisca (1537), a nation in the modern day Cundinamarca and Boyacá highlands of Colombia. The story of the Muisca rituals was brought to Quito by Sebastian de Belalcazar’s men; mixed with other rumors, there arose the legend of ''El Dorado'', The Golden Man— ''el indio dorado'', the golden Indian, and ''el rey dorado'', the Golden King. Imagined as a place, El Dorado became a kingdom, an empire, the city of this legendary golden king.

In search of this legendary kingdom, Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro would depart from Quito in 1541 to the Amazon Basin in the most fateful and famous expedition to find El Dorado.

The original narrative is to be found in the rambling chronicle, ''El Carnero'', of Juan Rodriguez Freyle. According to Freyle, the king or chief priest of the Muisca was said to be ritually covered with gold dust at a religious festival held in Lake Guatavita, ...

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