Ciudad Perdida is an ancient Tayrona indigenous town and archaeological site carved into the mountainside in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta isolated mountain range. 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 an ancient Tayrona indigenous town and archaeological site in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta 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 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 — have 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. Ciudad Perdida was probably the region's political and manufacturing center on the Buritaca River and may have housed 2,000 to 8,000 people. It was apparently abandoned during the Spanish conquest.
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. The site includes a complex system of constructed, canals, roads, stairs and walls interconnected by a series of 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 historic site against climate, vegetation, neglect, looting, and unsustainable tourism.