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For the high school in Tempe, Arizonamarker, see Marcos de Niza High School.

Fray Marcos de Niza (c. 1495 - March 25, 1558) was a Franciscan friar. He was born in Nicemarker (de Niza means of Nice in Spanish), which was at that time under the control of the Italianmarker House of Savoy.

He went to America in 1531, and after serving his order zealously in Perumarker, Guatemalamarker and Mexicomarker, was chosen to explore the country north of Sonoramarker, whose wealth was pictured in the hearsay stories of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Preceded by Estevanico, the Moorish companion of Cabeza de Vaca in his wanderings and the Black Mexican of Zuni traditions, Fray Marcos left Culiacánmarker in March 1539, crossed south-eastern Arizonamarker, penetrated to the Zunimarker or the Seven Cities of Cibola, and in September returned to Culiacán. He saw Cibola only from a distance, and his description of it as equal in size to Mexico Citymarker was probably exact; but he embodied much mere hearsay in his report, Descubrimiento de las siete ciudades, which led Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to make his famous expedition next year to Zuni Pueblomarker, in present-day New Mexicomarker, of which Fray Marcos was the guide; and the realities proved a great disappointment.

Fray Marcos was made provincial superior of his order for Mexico before the second trip to Zuni, and returned in 1541 to the capital, in shame, where he died in 1558.


  • MAURA, Juan Francisco. Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: el gran burlador de América. Parnaseo/Lemir. Valencia:Universidad de Valencia, 2008.


  1. Katharine Bartlett and Harold S. Colton, A Note on the Marcos de Niza inscription near Phoenix, Arizona, Plateau, vol.12, n°4, p.53-59.

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