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Ciudad de los Césares

Many of the villages the Spaniards founded in the Patagonia were created during attempts to find the mythical Ciudad de los Césares, or City of the Caesars. But what exactly were these conquistadores seeking? A fabulously rich city made of that precious metal the new-comers lusted for, gold. The legend has different versions.


The first recorded reference to the Ciudad de los Césares came from Francisco César. He and fourteen soldiers had been part of Sebastián Gaboto's expedition of Río de la Plata. César reported that during their three-month sojourn, they had penetrated deep inland to unknown Andean regions and found a city full of jewels and precious metals. Soon it was presumed to be an Inca city, and so “of the Caesars,” or rulers. At the same time, tales began circulating of a city built by Inca Atahualpa's half-brother Pablo Inga who, with untold riches, had escaped Francisco Pizarro's rapacious onslaught of Cuzco.


The many shipwrecks in the Straits of Magellan gave rise to another variant of the story. Simón de Alcazaba captained the 1540 expedition sponsored by the Bishop of Plasencia to secure the Straits for the Spanish. The ship sank in those treacherous waters. Nothing was known of the fate of the 200 persons who had survived the wreck until 23 years later when two of them arrived in Concepción, Chile. Pedro de Oviedo y Antonio de Cobos recounted their adventure and told of a city full of Inca treasure they had discovered.


Another narrative involves Spanish colonists forced to flee the Mapuche-Hilliche attacks on Valdivia, Osorno and other settlements in the vespers of the 17th Century. Some fled inland towards Lago Puyehue, it is believed, and stumbled upon the priceless Ciudad de los Césares.


The search for the City of the Caesars has not ended. Delphos Foundation, a research group, claims the City of the Caesars is three fortresses that the European Knights Templar built in South America to guard their immense wealth. One place being investigated is an abandoned fort at Golfo San Matías near San Antonio Oeste on the Atlantic coast. Another was on the foothills of the Andes and a third on the Pacific coast, near Osorno.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Lake District: When to go and Safety.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

24 Jun 2009

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