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Ciudad Perdida: The Gateway to the Past of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Ciudad Perdida: The Gateway to the Past of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Photo by: Sailing Nomad



The Ciudad Perdida near Santa Marta

Photo by: Sailing Nomad

The Ciudad Perdida Archaeological Park, also known as Teyuna, is located on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta at the edge of the Buritaca River. Ciudad Perdida means “lost city” in English.

Ciudad Perdida is reached by crossing forests full of exotic fauna and flora, hanging bridges, mountains, and waterfalls. In the midst of a tropical forest and 40 and 50-meter tall trees are found the ruins of the great Tayrona empire, characterized by a sophisticated integration of nature and civilization and splendid stone architecture.

The Discovery of Ciudad Perdida

Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1975 by an informal digger. The finding was confirmed in 1976 by the Instituto Antropológico de Bogotá.

The Architecture of Ciudad Perdida

The habitations in the Lost City were built out of stone in a circular shape five to eight meters in diameter. They are situated on stepped terraces.

According to anthropological research, Ciudad Perdida was built approximately in the year 700 AD and was the most important urban center among the 250 Indian settlements discovered so far on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Its population ranged between 1,400 and 3,000 inhabitants.

Ciudad Perdida was made up of over 250 terraces distributed in eight sections, each of which was a space for living, working, and performing religious celebrations. The various sections of the city were joined by a network of cobbled paths and stairs located on the slopes. Roads and stairs also joined the cultivation fields.  Houses were built on tiered terraces made from stones that formed rings with diameters of five to eight meters.

Part of the success of the Tayroma architecture consisted in preventing the rain falling on these slopes from eroding the land.  Additionally, a network of rainwater allowed the effective control of water. Also for preventing erosion, the Tayrona Indians built 12-meter high retaining walls to support the multiple paths that crossed the city.