Seven Cities of Gold

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The Seven Cities of Gold, also known as the Seven Cities of Cibola, is a myth that was popular in the 16th century. It is also featured in several works of popular culture. According to legend, the seven cities of gold could be found throughout the pueblos of the New Mexico Territory.[1] The cities were Hawikuh, Halona, Matsaki, Quivira, Kiakima, Cibola, and Kwakina. While there have always been mentions of a seventh city, no evidence of a site has been found.[2]

Origins of myth[edit]

In the 16th century, the Spaniards in New Spain (now Mexico) began to hear rumors of "Seven Cities of Gold" called "Cíbola" located across the desert, hundreds of miles to the north. The stories may have their root in an earlier Portuguese legend about seven cities founded on the island of Antillia by a Catholic expedition in the 8th century, or one based on the capture of Mérida, Spain by the Moors in 1150.

The later Spanish tales were largely caused by reports given by the four shipwrecked survivors of the failed Narváez expedition, which included Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and a black moorish slave named Esteban Dorantes, or Estevanico. Eventually returning to New Spain, the adventurers said they had heard stories from natives about cities with great and limitless riches. However, when conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado finally arrived at Cíbola in 1540, he discovered that the stories were unfounded and that there were, in fact, no treasures as the friar had described — only adobe towns.

While among the towns, Coronado heard an additional rumor from a native he called "the Turk" that there was a city with plenty of gold called Quivira located on the other side of the great plains. However, when at last he reached this place (variously conjectured to be in modern Kansas, Nebraska or Missouri), he found little more than straw-thatched villages.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The song "Hitchinchilla' to Quivira" from independent singer-songwriter Tyler Jakes's 2016 album Mojo Suicide is based on the story of Coronado's expedition.
  • The 1992 film ¡O No Coronado! by Craig Baldwin details Coronado's ill-fated expedition, in the context of contemporary treatment of indigenous Americans and usage of their traditional lands.
  • The novel The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell tells the story of one such (fictional) expedition through the eyes of a teenage cartographer.
  • In the Stephen King book The Stand, Trashcan Man is instructed by Randall Flagg to meet him in Cibola, which is later revealed to be Las Vegas.
  • Scrooge McDuck and his nephews discover the seven cities in the comic "The Seven Cities of Cibola" (Uncle Scrooge #7, September 1954), written and drawn by Carl Barks.[3][4]
  • The Vertigo/DC comic book series Jack of Fables recently began a storyline called "Americana" which relates the efforts of Jack of the Tales in entering Cíbola (issue 17, January 8 cover date).
  • Cíbola was discovered beneath Mount Rushmore in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, a 2007 film starring Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger.
  • Edward Abbey's autobiographical recount of his summer as a park ranger at Arches National Park, Desert Solitaire, contains a reference to "seven modern cities of Cibola" including Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.
  • The quest for Cibola was in an episode of the U.S. television series Daniel Boone with Fess Parker.
  • There is an arc in the Italian Western/science fiction comic Zagor about seven cities of gold which were abandoned and were remnants of an ancient highly developed civilization (Zagor #355-357, ITA/CRO: "Le sette città di Cibola" / "Sedam gradova Cibole").
  • Fiction romance author Kristin Hannah wrote: "The Enchantment" which is a story of the quest for the legendary lost city of Cibola in the late 1800s. (1992)
  • Cibola Burn is the fourth book in the science fiction novel series The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. The novel describes the flood of humanity out into the galaxy and the race for the newly accessible resources therein.
  • Seven Cities of Gold is the seventh track on the Clockwork Angels album by Rush. The lyrics were inspired by lyricist Neil Peart's fascination for southwestern US history.[5]

Video games[edit]

  • Electronic Arts published the video game, The Seven Cities of Gold in 1984
  • The video game Uncharted: Golden Abyss uses Quivira (one of the Seven Cities of Gold) as a final destination for the quest. The game also gives an explanation why Marcos de Niza lied about the location of the cities even though he really did find them.
  • The video game Europa Universalis IV has the El Dorado expansion which gives colonizing nations the ability to hunt for the Seven Cities of Gold in the New World.
  • In the turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Colonization (1994), scouting lost city ruins (tiles in the map) may result in finding one or more of the Seven Cities of Cibola, granting the player a treasure with a huge amount of gold.
  • The Western genre game Gun centers on a land baron's search for Quivira in the 1880s.
  • In Civilization Revolution for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo DS, players can find the Seven Cities of Gold. The player who finds the Seven Cities of Gold receives 200 to 350 gold pieces, depending on the era, to spend on building cities, military units, settlers (people that found new cities), or roads.
  • In the turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization V, the Spanish unique ability is called Seven Cities of Gold, where the player receives bonus Gold resources for discovering natural wonders.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Drye, Willie. "Seven Cities of Cibola". National Geographic. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Hawikuh and the Zuni-Cibola Complex". National Park Service. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  3. ^ The Seven Cities of Cibola at INDUCKS
  4. ^ Blum, Geoffrey (1996). Wind from a Dead Galleon. The Adventures of Uncle Scrooge McDuck in Color. 7. Gladstone Publishing. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  5. ^ "Seven Cities Of Gold by Rush Songfacts". Retrieved 2018-05-06.