One of the places Columbus’ remains are thought to lie is the Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo, 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’ tomb, but mystery still surrounds the final resting place of the world’s most famous navigator. There are other locations that also claim to house his remains, including the Cathedral of Seville in Spain, but the supposed bones of Columbus were moved to the Lighthouse in 1992 when the structure was completed.
The most outstanding and unique feature of the Columbus Lighthouse is the lighting system. It is 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.”
Even if controversy surrounds whether the bones of Columbus reside in the lighthouse, there can be no doubt that the project was a long time coming. The concept of the memorial came about in 1852, but it was not until 1914 that William Ellis Pulliam began promoting the idea to the American press of erecting a monument to Columbus that should be located in the first city of the New World. The concept became universally accepted in 1923, during the celebration of the Fifth International Conference, when it is decreed that the 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 construction was postponed again and again, due to growing instability in the Dominican Republic. Construction resumed in 1986 and the Columbus Lighthouse was inaugurated on October 6, 1992, the day Columbus’ remains were transferred to the Lighthouse.