Ciudad Perdida

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Ciudad Perdida
View of the central area of the city. Wooden structures once stood on the stone platforms.
Map showing location in Colombia
Map showing location in Colombia
Shown within Colombia
Alternative nameTeyuna, Buritaca 200
LocationMagdalena Department, Colombia
RegionSierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Coordinates11°2′16.79″N 73°55′30.69″W / 11.0379972°N 73.9251917°W / 11.0379972; -73.9251917Coordinates: 11°2′16.79″N 73°55′30.69″W / 11.0379972°N 73.9251917°W / 11.0379972; -73.9251917

Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for "Lost City") is the archaeological site of an ancient city in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu. This location is also known as "Teyuna" and "Buritaca 200".

Ciudad Perdida consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. The entrance can only be accessed by a climb up some 1,200 stone steps through dense jungle.[1][2]

Modern discovery[edit]

Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1972, when a group of local treasure looters found a series of stone steps rising up the mountainside and followed them to an abandoned city which they named "Green Hell" or "Wide Set". When gold figurines and ceramic urns from this city began to appear in the local black market, archaeologists headed by the director of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología reached the site in 1976 and completed reconstruction between 1976–1982.[2][3]

Members of local tribes – the Arhuaco, the Koguis, and the Wiwas – have stated that they visited the site regularly before it was widely reported, but had kept quiet about it. They call the city Teyuna and believe it was the heart of a network of villages inhabited by their forebears, the Tairona. Ciudad Perdida was probably the region's political and manufacturing center on the Buritaca River and may have housed 2,000–8,000 people. It was apparently abandoned during the Spanish conquest.[2]

Armed conflict[edit]

The area is now completely safe but was at one time affected by the Colombian armed conflict between the Colombian National Army, right-wing paramilitary groups and left-wing guerrilla groups like National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). On 15 September 2003, ELN kidnapped eight foreign tourists visiting Ciudad Perdida, demanding a government investigation into human rights abuses in exchange for their hostages.[4] ELN released the last of the hostages three months later. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary right-wing groups in that country, continued attacking aborigines and non-aborigines in the zone for a while. For some time the zone has been free of incidents.

Resumed access[edit]

In 2005, tourist hikes became operational again and there have been no problems since then. The Colombian army actively patrols the area, which is now deemed to be safe for visitors, and there have not been any more kidnappings. Since 2009, non-profit organization Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working in Ciudad Perdida to preserve and protect the historic site against climate, vegetation, neglect, looting, and unsustainable tourism. GHF's stated goals include the development and implementation of a regional Management Plan, documentation and conservation of the archaeological features at Ciudad Perdida and the engagement of the local indigenous communities as major stakeholders in the preservation and sustainable development of the site.

For a 4 day hike to the lost city, the cost is approximately US$334, a fixed-price arranged by the communities that inhabit the surroundings of the trail. It is a moderately difficult hike: The hike is about 42 km of walking in total, and requires a good level of fitness. The hike includes a number of river crossings and steep climbs and descents.[5]



  1. ^ "Explore the Site". Global Heritage Fund. Archived from the original on 2014-09-08.
  2. ^ a b c Muse, Toby (September–October 2004). "Lost City". Archaeology.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. ^ Alvaro, Soto-Holguin (1976). The Lost City of the Tayronas. Bogota, Colombia: Im Editors.
  4. ^ "Ciudad Perdida Kidnappings". La Ciudad Perdida.
  5. ^ "Lost city trek facts". (Hiking Information)

External links[edit]