Italian explorer Christopher Columbus pioneered four transatlantic voyages that paved the way for the exploration and colonization of the Americas. His voyages are a well-known part of American history that school age children often associate with a catchy song called “1942” that summarizes his voyages.
Columbus sailed under the sponsorship of Ferdinand II and Isabella I, the Monarchs of Spain at the time. Columbus was awarded the title “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” after he reported his findings in his return to Barcelona. His routes, which he sailed from 1492 to 1504, were designed to find a westward route to Asia and land in the islands of the Caribbean, which started European colonization of America.
In honor of Columbus’ achievements, there was a monument built in his honor in 1888 by sculptor Rafael Atché. The statue is located at the lower end of La Rambla, Barcelona, where Columbus returned from his first voyage. It represents Columbus pointing to the New World, despite the New World being in the opposite direction. The massive statue stands at 60 meters high and holds the first mechanical lift in Barcelona.
Antonin Fages I Ferrer had the original idea for the monument in 1856. Construction was attempted for 16 years, but ultimately failed. Nine years after the original construction failed, the mayor of Barcelona passed a resolution to allow a new monument to be built. Exposición Universal de Barcelona was held in 1888 for Spanish artists to compete in designing a new statue. A catalan architect, Gaietà Buïgas I Monravà, won. The majority of the project was funded privately and took six years for it to be completed.
On the base of the monument, Catalan figures that were a large part of Columbus’ voyage are represented. These four models portray Lluís de Santangel, Jaime Ferrer de Blanes, Captain Pere de Margarit and Father Bernat de Boïl, who had major influence on the voyages. The base of the monument is an octagon that contains allegories of the kingdoms of Catalonia, Aragon, Leon and Castile.
It is definitely a must see for Americans in order to gain a new perspective and history insight of Columbus!