Ciudad Perdida: Ancient Tairona Town (Colombia)
Ciudad Perdida is an ancient Tairona indigenous town and archaeological site carved into Colombia's isolated Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountainside. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu.
Ciudad Perdida ("Lost City"), also known locally as "Teyuna" or "Buritaca," is the archaeological site of an ancient Tairona indigenous town in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, an isolated mountain range. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu.
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 ancient, abandoned city.
When gold figurines and ceramic urns from this area began to appear in the local black market, archaeologists, headed by the director of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología, reached the site in 1976. Reconstruction was undertaken between 1976-1982.
Members of local tribes - the Arhuaco, the Koguis, and the Wiwas - had stated that they visited the site regularly before it was widely discovered 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 people.
Ancient Tairona Town
The site is believed to have been the seat of power of the Tairona kingdom, which spanned throughout the Sierra Nevada and the northern region of Colombia. It was probably the region's political and manufacturing center on the Buritaca River. It may have housed 2,000 to 8,000 people before being abandoned in the 16th century amid the arrival of Spanish conquistadores.
Ciudad Perdida consists 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 a dense jungle.
The site includes a complex system of constructed canals, roads, stairs, and walls interconnected by terraces and platforms on which the ceremonial centers, houses, and food storage sites were built.
Since 2009, the non-profit organization Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working in Ciudad Perdida to preserve and protect the historical site against climate, vegetation, neglect, looting, and unsustainable tourism.