The Lost City Of The Ceasers—Patagonia’s Mystical Land

The City of the Caesars, also known as the Enchanted City of Patagonia, Wandering City, Trapalanda, is a mythical, lost city of South America, which is supposed to be located somewhere in the Southern Cone (said to exist in a cordilleran valley of Patagonia between Chile and Argentina).

The City of the Caesars was just like Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu among others, a city many explorers and adventurers searched for.

Despite only existing in legends, many people set out to search for this long-lost land during the colonization of South America. Those who set out in search for the city never found evidence it ever existed, although reports of its existence circulated for more than two hundred years.

In 1766 a Jesuit, Father José García Alsue, explored the area now part of Queulat National Park in Aysén Region, Chile, searching unsuccessfully for the City of the Caesars.

The Legednary City of Cesares
Idealized recreation of the search of “City of Patagonia”. La Ciudad de Los Césares. Oil on canvas mounted on a panel. 27 1/2 x 39 3/8 in [2010] Author: Guillermo Muñoz Vera. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0
Stories about the city say it was filled with incredible riches.

Different versions give off different timelines and foundation stories. Some say it was founded by Spaniards (shipwrecked or exiled), and/or by Inca mitimaes; and that it was full of riches, mainly gold and silver.

Its location, a mysterious shrouded in more… mystery.

At least one—of the many—description indicates the mysterious city was located in between two mountains, somewhere in the Andes mountains, one of gold and another of diamonds.

Legend has it that the city is hidden from sight.

According to popular belief, the city remains until this day, surrounded by an impenetrable fog that keeps it hidden from the eyes of travelers, explorers and anyone who seeks to find it. It is said that it will remain hidden until the end of times when it will appear revealing its presence to the unbelievers and skeptics.

One of the more popular legends about the City of the Césares is based mainly on the merger of four independent stories.

The first reference about its existence appears with the expedition carried out by Captain Francisco César in 1528, within the framework of a major advance directed by Sebastián Gaboto in search of the legendary Sierra de la Plata.

Gaboto had left the old continent in 1526 with the original mission of reaching the Moluccas, crossing the Strait of Magellan.

However, during its stopover in Pernambuco (Brazil), the expedition heard the first versions of a rich land in the South American interior that could be accessed through a large estuary located further south.

Gold and incalculable riches, what drove explorers and adventurers mad

In Santa Catarina, Gaboto made contact with Melchor Ramírez and Enrique Montes, shipwrecked of the expedition of Juan Díaz de Solís to the Río de la Plata in 1516.

They confirmed the rumors and showed Gaboto a number of precious metals.

Ramírez and Montes spoke of the saga of Alejo García, another castaway of the expedition of Solis who had allegedly ventured out deep into the continent to the lands of the White King (Inca Empire), where the supposed Sierra de la Plata (Cerro Rico de Potosí) was located.

According to this story, Garcia had found great riches in the current Bolivian altiplano, although he eventually ended up being killed by the Payaguas Indians on his way back to the Atlantic coast.

All these stories (and precious metals) convinced Gaboto to abandon the original mission in search of the promising South American riches of Sierra de la Plata.

It is worth mentioning that by then the Spaniards were unaware of the existence of the Inca Empire, which would only be discovered by Francisco Pizarro in 1528.

Discovering the unfindable

As Gaboto entered Río de la Plata, the expedition made contact with a man called Francisco del Puerto, the only survivor of the crew that had set foot on the mainland with to Solís in 1516.

Del Puerto, who had established a link with the Indians, confirmed the rumors about Sierra de la Plata and joined the Spanish advance as a guide and interpreter.

Upstream, at the junction of the Paraná with the Carcaraña rivers, Gaboto decided to erect the fort of Sancti Spiritu (1527), becoming the first European settlement in the Rio de la Plata basin that would serve as the basis for the conquest of the region.

The expedition of Sebastian Gaboto to the Sierra de la Plata suffered their first setbacks when, at the height of the Paraguay River, the force of the river’s current prevented the expedition from continuing their journey.

Eventually, it was decided to send an advance under the command of Miguel de Rifos that was ambushed by the Indians at the height of the Pilcomayo River.

Faced with unsolvable setbacks, Gaboto decided to return to Sancti Spiritu to reorganize his forces.

While the preparations were being made to go back up the Paraná River to the north, Captain Francisco César requested and obtained authorization to conduct his own exploration, together with few men, and he traveled from Sancti Spiritu to the west, a journey that would mark the beginning of the legend of the City of the Caesars.

Eventually, shortly afterward, the natives of the region ended up destroying the Spanish fort forcing Gaboto to accept his defeat and travel back to Spain.

Other than the fact they learned about many legends that speak of innumerable riches in the lands to the south, the expedition led by Gaboto mostly served to consolidate the legend of Sierra de la Plata in Europe, as well as consolidating the the rumor that somewhere, near there, a lost city full of riches known as the City of the Caesars existed.

The story of César was further spread by Ruy Díaz de Guzmán, who added fantastic accounts to the story.

The myth of the City of the Caesars, similar to that of El Dorado and other legendary lost cities of South America, has been the subject of inspiration for literary works.

When various stories come together as one

Over the years these different stories came to be merged into one featuring fantastic elements from the European tradition.

The mythical became acknowledged among many as an extremely wealthy city in which its inhabitants (who were called the Caesars) were the of descendants of Spaniards and Natives (who accompanied their Spanish ancestors); which together founded this mythical city in an unknown.

Thus, the fusion of various stories about a mythical city eventually resulted in a legend of the mythical city located in an unknown area hidden in the cordilleran valley of Patagonia between Chile and Argentina.

This is how the legend of the mythical City of the Caesars would become part of the Mythology of South America, as well as giving rise to other cities with innumerable riches such as “El Dorado” and “Paititi”.

Featured Image Credit: JJcanvasJorge Jacinto

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