Caribbean Tourism

The Mystery of Columbus’ Bones

After his death in 1506, Columbus was buried in Valladolid, Spain. In 1509 his body was apparently removed to Sevilla, thence together with that of his son Diego to Santo Domingo sometime in the 1540s.


When France took control of Hispaniola in 1795, Cuba (still part of Spain) requested Columbus’ remains. An urn bearing the name ‘Colón’ was disinterred from beneath the altar, sent to Havana and then back to the Cathedral in Sevilla in 1898, when Cuba became independent. In 1877, however, during alterations and repairs in Santo Domingo cathedral, the cache of urns beneath the altar was reopened. One casket bore the inscription ‘Almirante Cristóbal Colón’, both outside and in. Experts confirmed that the remains were those of Columbus; the Spanish ambassador and two further experts from Spain were dismissed for concurring with the findings. A second pair of Spanish experts denied the discovery, hence the confusion over where the admiral’s bones lay. The urn that was opened in 1877 is that which is now given pride of place in the Faro a Colón.

Joe Hollins


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