Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and the Seven Cities of Gold

In 1540, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado set out from northern Mexico with one of the largest expeditions ever assembled in the New World. The goal was to find and conquer the legendary Seven Cities of Gold – also known as Cibola and El Dorado.


Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and the Seven Cities of Gold – Part 1

In part 1 of our series, conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado sets out to find the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. He doesn’t find any such great kingdom or golden cities, but in the process he reaches such places as the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, the Arkansas River, and much more.

Download this episode or listen online.

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and the Seven Cities of Gold – Part 2

In part 2 of our series on Vázquez de Coronado, the Spanish conquistador and his army set out for the supposedly wealthy region of Quivira.

Download this episode or listen online.


Route of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin. Source.


One of the biggest issues with the story on Vázquez de Coronado is that there’s not a lot of recent work about the man and his expedition. Still, there’s some great primary source material to work with. Here’s some of the items I used in producing the series.

The Journey of Coronado, by Pedro de Castañeda. This is the primary source for this series. It is one of the best and most detailed writings about the Spanish conquistadors of this era. The book contains not just Castañeda’s narrative, but many other documents, including letters from Coronado to the viceroy of Mexico and the Spanish king. Due to the age of the text, it is not always the easiest read – but it’s still great. Originally published in 1596. Translated by George Parker Winship.

The Coronado Expedition 1540-1542, by George Parker Winship. This is book was published in 1896, and the bulk of it is a translation of the narrative by Pedro de Castañeda. However, he also includes his own narrative (based on Castañeda’s and other sources). It’s dated – but a helpful resource.

Francisco Coronado and the Seven Cities of Gold, by Shane Mountjoy. While aimed at younger readers, this book provides a bit more modern look at our story (it was written in 2006).

Great cruelties have been reported: the 1544 investigation of the Coronado Expedition, by Richard Flint. Published in 2002, this book puts together all the documentation from the 1544 investigation of Coronado and his expedition. It provides a rare look into the violence that was a part of the endeavor.

Wikipedia entry for Vázquez de Coronado.