City of Gold

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    This is a place where what we consider wealth—precious metals, jewels, ivory, cappuccinos, ipods, etc—are everywhere and in great abundance. Even the "beggars" are rich and the most ramshackle building could put a pharaoh's tomb to shame. And the kings? They'd make Croesus green gold with envy. Richie Rich would probably find the place ostentatious and tacky. It makes Fluffy Cloud Heaven look practically spartan in comparison. When people say it's where the roads are paved with gold, they're talking literally. Visitors like the Intrepid Merchant, Mr. Vice Guy and Guile Hero may become rich after visiting this place with little more than a pouch full of the precious gems lying on the ground, it's so rich. We could go on, but basically this is the Treasure Room as an entire city or even country.

    The City of Gold usually has one of two rather strange sets of local economics. In one, despite the wanton abundance of riches, everyone still considers gold and rubies to be valuable. This can be especially pronounced because the City Of Gold is usually a Hidden Elf Village that isn't trading with the outside world. This usually happens in works aimed at children that can't spend the time on a proper economic lecture on the effects of scarcity or excess on a local economy.

    The other has the logical effect of this cornucopia of wealth, everyone in the City of Gold will consider these luxuries to be Worthless Yellow Rocks at worst and costume jewelry at best. What they'll really value are things that are useful, actually rare, or truly valuable, like pencils, art, and kindness. As you can guess, this location is some of the most fertile ground to plant An Aesop.

    If the City of Gold is not a hidden elf village, they may be shrewd enough to create an artificial scarcity by only trading a little of their riches with the outside, to avoid collapsing their economies and rendering their wealth worthless to all. Or they might just let the Funny Foreigners load up a gold-plated wheelbarrow with diamonds and send them on their way.

    Compare Advanced Ancient Acropolis, Shining City, Conspicuous Consumption, Gold Fever (which this can induce), Gold Makes Everything Shiny.

    Examples of City of Gold include:

    Anime and Manga

    Comic Books



    There no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese!

    • A Bugs Life: P.T. Flea sings "the streets will be paved with golden retrievers".
    • The Road to El Dorado focuses on the mythical city of gold.
    • National Treasure: national treasure Ben Gates discovers is a city of solid gold.
    • In Gunga Din much of the action is propelled by a British soldier's greed for the gold topping a Hindu temple.
    • In the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea the city of Templemere has almost everything made of gold because they get it from refining sea water, and a huge room is full of used gold items, which are basically junk as gold is so plentiful it's valueless.


    • A miser dies and brings his most treasured posession to heaven: a massive brick of solid gold. At the gates, St. Peter says, "What? You brought pavement?"


    • The Agatean Empire from Discworld has vast quantities of available gold that they use to decorate roofs, and lead is extremely valuable.
    • One of the voyages of Sinbad the Sailor was to a country practically brimming with precious gems. The king there sent him back to Bagdad with massive presents for the caliph.
    • Dick Whittington travels to London because the streets are supposed to be paved with gold, but in that story it turns out to be a figure of speech.
    • In some interpretations of The Bible, Heaven is supposed to be like this. E.g., "the Pearly Gates - according to one hypothesis, actually lined with mother of pearl
      • More specifically: This is the city of New Jerusalem. As described in the Revelation, the streets are gold - pure gold, like glass. (Translucent gold?) The foundations of the city are described as twelve precious and semi-precious gemstones. (Interestingly, sapphire is mentioned but ruby is not.) The city gates are pearl - and since at least one translation describes the twelve gates as being carved from a single pearl (each, presumably), it's probably the real deal. Also, the place is described as huge - over 2,532,139,147 cubic miles of space, much of which will presumably be gold (the streets, the buildings, etc.) Now that's a golden city!
    • Candide has Eldorado, where Worthless Yellow Rocks are abundant.
    • In the Dreamlands sequence from A Night In The Lonesome October, Snuff and Greymalk explore a Lovecraft-inspired dream city in which rare and exotic construction materials are commonplace. Entering an alley, they walk past an ornately-gilded trash can made of semiprecious stone and finest ceramic.
    • The Twenty-One Balloons focuses on a hidden society built around a gigantic diamond mine. They bankroll their utopian society by selling diamonds to the outside world, and are smart enough to hide the extent and source of their wealth, selling only small amounts on a given expedition and switching ports routinely.
    • Subverted in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Great Oz makes everyone believe that the Emerald City is made of emeralds, by making visitors wear green glasses while they are in the city.
    • Tom Swift found an underground city of gold in central Mexico in Tom Swift in the City of Gold.
    • In a variant, the capital of the Tamul Empire is entirely sheathed in mother-of-pearl, in a case of decorative exuberance gone way out of hand. Everyone has to wear special slippers, and the emperor points out that it's hideously expensive to maintain, as it has to be almost completely redone every time there's a storm.
    • In Spellsinger, Jon-Tom and Mudge stumble into an underground community of moles and gophers, who build their tunnels' floors and other civic accoutrements out of gold and gemstones. Jon-Tom promises that they'll leave empty-handed and keep quite about it, provided they let the otter go and don't execute him for stealing paving-stones.
    • A 1940's sci-fi pulp short story Men of Honor by Will Garth has space explorers coming across a city of gold and stealing as much as they can carry off with them. On returning to their rocketship they find that the aliens, puzzled as to why they'd want a worthless metal, have removed the equivalent weight in valuable steel from the hull of the Earthmen's rocketship. After all fair exchange, etc...

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

    • The mythical Seven Cities of Gold, sought by conquistadors. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado found two of them, Cíbola and Quivira, but both were just ordinary little villages.
    • El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold, also sought by conquistadors. The legend was a corruption of an original myth where El Dorado ("The Golden One") was a tribal chief who covered himself in gold dust and jumped into a lake.
    • The City of the Caesars was a mythical South American city filled with gold, silver and diamonds.
    • East Asia was thought to be effectively a region of treasure and the stories told about it before the Porteguesse arrived were a chain of "can you top that" lines. Of course the real thing was almost as rich as the myth anyway.

    Video Games

    • One of the secrets in Spelunky is a series of trades that can lead a careful explorer to the City of Gold. In this legendary version of level 15, each tile can be bombed for gold, and there is a gigantic statue that can be bombed for gold and jewels.
    • Secret of Mana has the Gold City, too bad it's an island, and it seems to be sinking slowly.
      • One of the main reasons everything in the city is golden is because its king was exploiting the powers of Lumina, Spirit of Light to do so.

    Western Animation

    • ThunderCats (2011) has Artful Dodger Brother-Sister Team Wilykat and Kit on the hunt for the fabled treasure city of El Dara. Wilykat owns a Treasure Map that supposedly leads there, and has promised his sister Kit that they'll find it together, and never be poor again. This quest is what leads them to tag along with the titular Thundercats when they all depart their Doomed Hometown of Thundera.
    • Parodied in The Simpsons: a flashback shows a young Abe Simpson and Jasper during Springfield's economic boom:

    Abe: Hah! The way people act around here, you'd think the streets were paved with gold.
    Jasper: They are.
    [A car tries to break in the slippery gold street and crashes]