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The interior of the Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo.

The Towering Columbus Lighthouse Holds Remains of Great Navigator

One of the many sites Christopher Columbus’ remains are thought to buried is the Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Built in the shape of a cross, the towering 688-foot-tall monument is both a sightseeing attraction and a cultural center. In the heart of the structure is a chapel containing Columbus’ alleged tomb and mortal remains. Other locations, including the Cathedral of Seville in Spain, also claim to possess the explorer’s remains. The supposed bones of Columbus were moved to the Lighthouse in 1992 when it was completed. The most outstanding and unique feature of the Columbus Lighthouse is the lighting system composed of 149 searchlights and a 70-kilowatt beam that circles out nearly 44 miles. When illuminated, the lights project a gigantic cross in the sky that can be seen as far away as Puerto Rico. The front of the monument is engraved with phrases that inspired Columbus, such as, “between Spain and India lies a narrow sea that can be crossed in a few days.”

Although the concept of the memorial came about in 1852, the first stones were not laid until 1986. The idea was first conceived by Dominican historian Antonio Delmonte y Tejada 150 years ago. But in 1914, the American, William Ellis Pulliam began selling the idea of erecting a monument in the first city of the New World to the American press. The idea became universally accepted during the 1923 celebration of the Fifth International Conference in Chile, when it was decreed that this monument should be built in cooperation by all governments and peoples of America. A worldwide contest was held to choose the architect for the structure and in 1929, the design submitted by J. L. Gleave was declared the winner.

The foundation of the monument was laid in 1948, but production was postponed due to growing instability in the Dominican Republic. Construction resumed in 1986 and the Columbus Lighthouse was inaugurated on October 6, 1992, almost 500 years to the day of the discovery of the New World by Columbus.