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The Tomb of Cristopher Colombus

20 Jun 2019

One of the reasons you could visit the Cathedral of Seville could be to see the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It is a grave you cannot possibly miss!

In Spain, we call him Cristobal Colón, and he is most known for his “discovery” of Latin America.

 

In 1492, it was Christopher that knocked on the doors of the Royal Palace, in order to get his first voyage funded. He was convinced that the earth was round, and he would prove it by finding a sea route in western direction that would lead him to India. After many years of bargaining, catholic King and Queen Fernando and Isabel gave him the money he needed and bid him a good journey, and the rest…is history!

 

Over the years, he sailed far and wide to many parts of the world, giving names to any and all islands he came across. For better or worse, he would change the course of history for many, if not all places he visited. Wonder how these voyages changed Spain? Check our other blog here!

 

Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506, the city where Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon married in 1469. This was also the royal couple that funded his first voyage in 1492, when they defeated the last remaining Moors in Granada.

So, Columbus was buried where he died, but his remains did not stay there for long. By the will of his son Diego, his remains were moved from Valladolid to the monastery called La Cartuja in Seville. A few decades later, they were moved to the Dominican Republic in 1542. Back then, it was called Santo Domingo, and it was in the hands of the Spanish crown. It was part of the island Hispaniola, which the Spanish called La isla de Española, and was discovered by Columbus in 1492. A couple of centuries later, the French took over the island, and the Spanish rapidly moved Columbus’ remains to Havana in Cuba. However, just a century following this, Cuba declared its independence after the Spanish-American War in 1898, and once again, the Spanish scrambled to gather his remains and move them again, back to Seville, where his first journey had started from. The tomb he is buried in was actually taken from Cuba, too!

 

The four men that carry his remains are actually symbolic representations of the four kingdoms Spain used to consist of; Leon, Aragon, Navarra and Castile. You can recognise which statue represents which kingdom by the symbolism on their clothing. Leon is easy to recognise, as there is a giant lion on the back of his coat, as has the statue of Castile, as he has a castle on the front. Navarra has linked chains, which can also be found in the coat of arms, around the drapery on the leg-area. The Kingdom of Aragon had stripes in its coat of arms, so the striped drapery on the remaining statue is reminiscent of that. Both the crown and the clothing have bats on them. Although the bat is not represented on the coat of arms of Aragon, it was (and sometimes still is!) part of the coat of arms of several big and important cities in Aragon, such as Valencia and Novallas.

 

More than enough reason to visit his tomb in the Cathedral of Seville!