In the Footsteps of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
When the Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza returned from his expedition around Mexico in 1539, he told stories about a city of gold, Cibola, which inspired Francisco de Coronado’s expedition a year after. In 1540 Coronado set out from Compostela, Mexico with over a thousand men and two goals in mind: find Cibola, and take its wealth back to Mexico. Coronado brought no gold back with him, but he was able to discover places no other men have set foot in before. Here are some of them…
- Cibola (now Zuni, New Mexico). In July 1540, Coronado and his men arrived at the famed golden city. The only problem was there was no gold at all, only little pueblos. Today, this “city of gold” is known as Zuni, a small town in New Mexico. And while gold remains a mere legend, turquoise and silver are abundant here. The Zuni peoples’ art and handicraft are popular souvenirs: mosaic patterns, inlay jewellery, and intricate stone carvings.
- Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Disappointed with what Cibola turned out to be, Coronado ordered some of his men to explore other places in search of gold. One of the parties came across the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as well as the mouth of the Colorado River. Now a renowned tourist attraction, the Grand Canyon is a natural spectacle, with its bright brown and orange layers of rock. Today, tourists can enjoy Grand Canyon’s incredible sights even more through the Skywalk, which juts out of the gorge at a height of over 1,200 metres.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico. While some of his men continued to search for wealth in other places, Coronado and his crew settled in one of the pueblos in Albuquerque in September 1540 until winter. Although this desert metropolis seems to have been untouched since then, it is now a hub of commerce for the state. It’s also an ideal getaway especially during the month of October, when almost a thousand balloons with various amusing shapes fill the sky during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
- Quivira (now Lake Quivira, Kansas). While Coronado was in Albuquerque, he learned of Quivira, another supposedly wealthy city. He marched off with his men to Kansas, hoping to be greeted this time by glittering gold. But he was disappointed for the second time, as Quivira, just like Cibola, bore no traces of the riches he sought. Today, Quivira goes by the name of Lake Quivira. Although only a few people have discovered the city’s beauty, various hidden treasures lie here, such as the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 300 bird species, including waterfowl, upland game, and quail.