The Location of the Cities of Cibola

Quck answer

The cities of Cibola are legendary, said to be located somewhere in the southwestern United States. According to Spanish conquistadors, Cibola was a region rich in gold and precious jewels. Many explorers, including Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, searched for these cities in the 16th century, but they were never found. Some theories suggest that Cibola may have been a myth or a misinterpretation of Native American settlements. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the allure of Cibola continues to captivate the imagination of treasure hunters and history enthusiasts.

The western part of the United States is filled with stunning and captivating destinations. From the Mojave Desert and the Grand Canyon to the Redwood National State Park, the list goes on. Today, we will specifically discuss one place on that list: the Cities of Cibola.

So where exactly are the Cities of Cibola? This question intrigued many Europeans during the 16th century. Also known as the “Seven Cities of Gold,” Cibola was a legendary location said to be abundant in gold. Legends even claimed that the people who lived there constructed their homes using this precious metal.

This may sound similar to the tale of El Dorado familiar to Wonder Friends. However, these seven cities were believed to be situated much further north. Spanish colonizers explored the regions that now encompass northern Mexico and the southwestern United States in their quest to find the Cities of Cibola.

However, for another group of individuals, Cibola was not a mere legend but their actual home. The Zuni people, an American Indian nation, have resided in the southwestern U.S. for thousands of years. As early as 1200 CE, they had established Hawikuh, one of the seven Cities of Cibola.

By the time Europeans arrived, the Zuni people had already been inhabiting the area for a significant period. Many Zuni individuals engaged in farming maize and wheat, while jewelry-making served as another common trade among them. They have always maintained a deep connection with the land and nature through their religious and cultural traditions.

In 1539, a Moroccan man named Esteban arrived at Hawikuh. Esteban, who was enslaved, accompanied Friar Marcos de Niza in their search for the Seven Cities of Gold. Due to his familiarity with various American Indian nations and proficiency in multiple languages, Esteban was sent ahead of the rest of the group to Hawikuh.

Accounts regarding what transpired next differ. Most reports indicate that Zuni warriors killed Esteban. However, it is also possible that he simply never returned to Friar de Niza. Regardless, de Niza and the rest of the party returned to Mexico City, which was then part of New Spain.

There, de Niza informed Spanish leaders of Esteban’s death. He also claimed to have witnessed Hawikuh, describing it as a city brimming with gold. It is possible that de Niza was merely mistaken, but many historians today believe that he intentionally lied.

The Spanish leaders were filled with excitement. They believed they had finally discovered the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. Driven by greed and the desire to seize these legendary riches from the Zuni people, they formed the Coronado Expedition.

Under the leadership of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, the expedition aimed to return to Hawikuh and plunder its gold. Friar de Niza accompanied the expedition to guide them. However, upon their arrival, the Coronado Expedition did not find the treasures they sought.

Instead, Coronado and his group encountered the Zuni people and their pueblo homes. However, the expedition was not willing to give up. They were convinced that the Zuni people were hiding their riches. Coronado led a team that mercilessly tortured and killed numerous Zuni individuals in their fruitless pursuit of non-existent gold. This marked the first recorded encounter between Europeans and Pueblo Indians.

The Zunis who managed to survive escaped into the nearby mountains and forests. After displacing the Zunis, the Coronado Expedition established their main base in Hawikuh. From there, they explored the southern United States and claimed most of the region for Spain.

Presently, Zuni Pueblo remains the home of the Zuni people. The Zuni Tribe is governed by legislative, executive, and judiciary branches. The people continue to engage in farming, jewelry-making, and demonstrating respect for the land. Located west of Albuquerque, Zuni Pueblo is a picturesque area spanning approximately 450,000 acres.

Regrettably, the story of the Zuni people and the Coronado Expedition is not an isolated incident. Numerous European colonizers, motivated by greed, brought violence to various Native American nations. Could these conflicts have been avoided? What alternative actions could have been taken? How would the world we know today differ if these colonizers had made different choices?

Give It a Try!

Continue learning with the assistance of a friend or family member using the activities provided below!

– Interested in delving deeper into the Pueblo of Zuni? Invest some time in reading about Zuni culture, government, and more. Once finished, create a poster on paper or using Canva that could educate others about the Zuni people. Ensure to include at least one picture and five facts that you have learned.

– Familiarize yourself with the Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations of New Mexico. Explore information about at least two groups that you haven’t previously studied. What similarities do they share with each other and with the Zuni people? What sets each group apart? Summarize your findings and discuss your thoughts with a friend or family member.

– How could conflict between the Spanish and Zuni peoples have been avoided? Imagine yourself as a Spanish leader in New Spain during the 1500s. What measures would you take to establish better relations with the Zunis and other Native American peoples? Write a paragraph outlining how you would approach the situation differently to achieve a more favorable outcome.

Sources of Wonder

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)

– (accessed 09 Apr. 2021)


1. What are the Cities of Cibola?

The Cities of Cibola are legendary cities that were believed to be located in the American Southwest. According to popular tales, these cities were said to be magnificent and filled with great wealth, including gold and precious gems.

2. Are the Cities of Cibola real?

There is no concrete evidence to prove the existence of the Cities of Cibola. Many explorers and conquistadors, such as Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, searched for these cities in the 16th century but were unsuccessful in finding them. It is widely believed that the cities were a myth or a result of exaggerated stories.

3. Where were the Cities of Cibola believed to be located?

The Cities of Cibola were believed to be located in the region now known as the American Southwest, specifically in present-day Arizona and New Mexico. According to some accounts, they were said to be situated near the Colorado River or the mythical Seven Cities of Antilia.

4. Why were the Cities of Cibola sought after?

The Cities of Cibola were sought after due to the rumors of great wealth and treasure they supposedly contained. Explorers and conquistadors, driven by the desire for riches, embarked on expeditions to find these cities in the hopes of claiming the treasures for themselves or their respective countries.

5. What is the significance of the Cities of Cibola?

The myth of the Cities of Cibola played a significant role in the exploration and colonization of the American Southwest. It fueled the curiosity of early explorers, as well as influenced the actions of European powers in their quest for new territories and riches in the New World.

6. Are there any archaeological findings related to the Cities of Cibola?

There have been archaeological findings in the American Southwest that some believe could be connected to the myth of the Cities of Cibola. One notable example is the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, which has a long history and has been inhabited for centuries. However, there is no definitive evidence linking these archaeological sites to the legendary cities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *