Today Christopher Columbus has become a controversial figure. This article will not comment on anything that he did in life, only seek to understand where he is now. One would things where he is buried should be an easy question to answer. But there are at least two different answers, if one asks that question in Spain they will say the Cathedral of Seville, while in the Dominican Republic the answer is likely to be Colonial Santo Domingo.

So the story of Columbus's remains is a complicated one. He died in Valladolid, Spain on 20 May 1506 at the age of 54. After that, it comes clear he hasn't been exactly "laid to rest" and instead had another trip to the New World.

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Death, Burial, and Relocations of Columbus

After his disastrous fourth voyage to the New World, Columbus returned to Spain an aged and infirm man in 1504 dying in 1506.

Little did Columbus know that he would have a fifth (potentially) round trip journey to the New World.

Columbus was firstly buried in a convent in Valladolid but years later the remains were moved to the monastery of La Cartuja in Seville by the will of his son, after that they may have been exhumed and reinterred in the Cathedral of Seville.

Died:

  • Age: 54
  • Date: 20 May 1506
  • Location: Valladolid, Spain

But Columbus had wanted to be buried in the New World. While he wanted to be buried in the New World, there were no buildings yet there that were seen as illustrious enough to be the final resting place of such a venerated man. But in around 1536, his remains were moved to a cathedral in Colonial Santo Domingo in what is today the Dominican Republic.

But that's where things start to get murky. In 1793 the French took over the whole island of Hispaniola. And according to some accounts, his remains were moved to Havana in Cuba. But then the American's fought the Spanish in the Spanish American War of 1898 and Cuba became independent.

  • Moved: To A More Esteemed Location (Seville), Then To The New World (Santo Domingo), Then Away From The French (to Cuba), Then Away From The Americans (Back to Spain)

The Spanish then decided to move them back to the Cathedral of Seville in Spain where they are placed on a catafalque. These remains have been DNA tested and compared with other relatives and it seems to have confirmed they are his. But the results are not necessarily conclusive.

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The Plot Thickens

But then in 1877, a priest in the Dominican Republic discovered a lead box that was inscribed with the words "Discoverer of America, First Admiral" other inscriptions read "Last of the remains of the first admiral, Sire Christopher Columbus, discoverer." No one seems to be disputing the validity of this inscription.

The box contained the bones of an arm and a leg and a bullet for some reason. Today these remains are in the new Columbus Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic having been first kept in the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor.

Since this find the Dominicans have claimed the Spanish hauled away the wrong set of bones out of the cathedral in 1795.

So today there are now two competing cities that claim to have the explorer's remains. The Dominicans for their part have refused to allow for a DNA test of the remains.

The Seville Cathedral

The Seville Cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world and was the largest when it was first built. It has been UNESCO listed since 1987 and really is one of the most impressive monuments in Spain. It is built on what was once the great Aljama Mosque before it fell to the Spanish in the Reconquista in 1248.

  • Largest: It Was The Largest Church When It Was Built (Remains The Largest Gothic Church)
  • Aljama Mosque: Stood From 1198 to 1248
  • Reconquista: Seville Fell to The Christain Spanish in 1248

Related: UNSECO-Listed Seville Cathedral Replaced The Hagia Sophia As One Of Largest Cathedrals In The World

The Columbus Lighthouse

The Dominicans built the Columbus Lighthouse to house their remains of Columbus. They moved them from the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor (the oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere). It is a mausoleum built for the explorer.

Located: In Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic

Inaugurated: In 1992 To Mark The 500th Anniversary of Columbus's First Voyage

The building started construction in 1986 to be completed in time for the 500th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage. It was inaugurated in 1992. The projecting beams of light are so powerful they can be seen from neighboring Puerto Rico.

Whether or not it does house the remains of Columbus, it is a very important building and monument to the island nation of the Dominican Republic.

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