Columbus Lighthouse: a tribute to Admiral
Columbus lighthouse was inaugurated and consecrated by Pope John Paul II during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the “Discovery of America”
It was an ambitious and monumental work since its inception. The Dominican Republic felt a moral commitment to lead celebrations across the continent for the 500 years of the Spaniards arrival to America along with Christianity, so neither more nor less than Pope John Paul II, would be the guest of honor on a historic visit to the first city in America.
In 1931, the chosen architect was Joseph Lea Gleave, an American with vast experience whose proposal attracted attention among more than 400 artists who presented their initiatives. The work did not begin until 1986 in the east of Santo Domingo city.
In 1990 (two years before the opening of the work) the Mausoleum transfer started where the remains of Columbus lie down, according to Dominican historians. The process was carried out piece by piece, from the Cathedral to the Columbus lighthouse, which was raised to house the Great Admiral ashes forever. The work has nine meters high Gothic style on a rectangular base of 7x8 meters, consisting of 280 pieces of Carrara marble, some up to 3,000 kilos of weight and bronze ornaments.
The combined operation of its columns, arches and buttresses gives stability to the structure. Flanked by four bronze lions, it is dominated by the magnificent female figure representing the Dominican Republic, destined by history to keep the venerable ashes of the Great discoverer forever.
The opening of Columbus Lighthouse
On October 6, 1992, the Dominican Republic looked up to see the huge white cross that was reflected in the sky. In this way, the celebration of the V centenary began under the leadership of President Joaquin Balaguer. Few hours earlier, the remains of Christopher Columbus were moved from the first Cathedral where they were from 1544, to the beautiful mausoleum in the lighthouse.
The monument having a length of 210 meters facing east-west, 60 meters in its arms from north-south and 31 meters height, is a huge mass of concrete and marble that, seen from the air, has become into a great reclining cross, worthy feature of immutable value and faith of the Great Discoverer Columbus, to whom it commemorates: “Put crosses on all roads and trails may God blesses this land belonging to Christians; the memory of this should be preserved through times.”
The lighthouse is actually a museum where you can see relics of the conquest and Tainos’ life in the country. Besides, every country in Latin America has a space where it shares its history and heritage with visitors.
In the evenings, it offers an impressive night show when the vertical rays of light emanating from the 157 lights placed along the monument reflect the Grand Cross in the sky which can be seen many kilometers around. At the main entrance of the monument, the colors of the flags of all American countries symbolize the brotherhood between nations and the union of different races, cultures and creeds on Earth.
The wall of shame
The construction of a wall around the structure of this monument has been strongly criticized. For many locals, the wall intended to conceal the slums that were around the lighthouse and hide the millions dollars invested in this work and not in the village.
V Centenary Mass
Pope John Paul II celebrated the first mass in the country at the forecourt of the monument as a symbol of the arrival in America of Christianity.
The Cross in the sky
The lighthouse turns on its lights only on special dates: Christmas, New Year, Easter Sunday and on October 12, of course.
Columbus, in Seville?
It was 10 years ago when a team of scientists confirmed by means of DNA testing that the mortal remains in Seville Cathedral belong to Admiral Columbus. Then, who is in the grave? Dominican historians still believe that some of the bones of Columbus lie down in Santo Domingo.