The Seven Cities of Gold-Southern New Mexico

The Seven Cities of Gold has been the mysterious fable since 1539, when Fray Marcos de Niza claimed to have seen them. 

After Cortes conquered the Aztec Empire in the early 1520’s he set out to discovery the legendary Seven Cities of Gold.  The fable claims that the Seven Cities of God was established by seven bishops who fled Spain ater the Moorish conquest to hide religious articles, gold, and gems.

Cabeza de Vaca reached his countrymen in Mexico after a shipwreck on the Texas Gulf Coast, where he told of gems he had seen in villages to the north, marking New Mexico as the mythical Cibola.  Fray Marcos in 1539 went on a scouting expedition to look for de Vaca’s Cibola, returning with news that he had sen a village with buildings made of gold.

Historians speculate that what he saw was a village called Zuni.  The Moorish slave Estevan, whom Fray Marcos sent ahead in a scouting party, was killed in Zuni.  And it is said that the friar might have turned around at that point and went back home.

A second interpretation of the story was Fray Marcos saw Zuni from a distance and the sunset reflecting on the adobe walls which contained bits of silica, took the appearance of a city of gold.

The fable of the Seven Cities has never died.  In fact, today the stories claim that  seven caverns of gold lay beneath Victorio Peak north of Las Cruces.  However, the latest entry in New Mexico’s gold lore is two men, Ruben Amador and Rollie Saavedra, contend that petroglyphs on rocks, boulders and in caves are actually treasure maps left by Fray Marcos de Niza, and not by the Indians.  Amador, a former heavy equipment operator, says he will devote the rest of his life to breaking the code of the petroglphys, and claims he will succeed.

Both men have created the "Codebreaker Tour", and are hoping to receive state funds to promote the tour.