Located at Plaza Portal de la Pau, Barcelona, the Columbus monument, locally known as Mirador de Colom, is a 197 feet (60 m) tall tower, crowned with a statue of Christopher Columbus standing elegantly on the top and pointing out to the sea with his right hand. Constructed on the occasion of the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in 1888, it was dedicated to honor and remembrance of Columbus, for his first voyage to the New World. The monument is also a reminder to the fact that, the great expeditionary voyage of Columbus was sponsored by Spain and he reported to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand V in the court of Barcelona on his return from the new continent. It is commonly believed that, the monument is constructed at the particular site, where Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493, after his discovery of the New World the year before.
It is interesting to note that, during the nineteenth century Columbus was commonly considered as a Catalan and some historians even claimed that he was born in Catalonia, in the northeastern region of Spain. However, he was not a born Spanish. It is considered that he was probably born in Genoa in Italy, then moved to Portugal and later settled in Spain.
It was Antoni Fages i Ferrer, who first conceived the idea of a monument in 1856, to glorify Columbus. He also proposed that the proposed monument should be constructed entirely by the Catalans. But, the proposal was kept in abeyance for sixteen years. At last, in 1872, he gained the support of the mayor of the city and in1881, a resolution was passed to build the monument. Accordingly, a contest was held exclusively for the Spanish artists in 1882 and Gaietà Buigas i Monravà, a Catalan, won the first prize among the forty seven contestants. Most of the money for the construction of the structure was privately raised from the Spanish sources and only twelve percent of it was financed by public. Finally, the construction started in 1882 and was completed in 1888, just in time for the opening of the Exposicion Universal de Barcelona.
The 131 feet (41 m) Corinthian column, made of cast iron is hung with a device bearing an anchor. It stands on an octagonal stone pedestal sumptuously decorated with beautiful statues of allegorical figures. Among the statues, four winged Victories or Phemes of bronze is created in the stance of taking flight towards the four corners of the world, above paired griffins. Four structures against the octagonal pedestal bear portrait medallions depicting persons related to Columbus. The four realms of Spain – the principality of Catalonia and the three other kingdoms of Aragon, Leon and Castile, are represented by the four other figures, seated against the buttresses. Four more additional statues are also there, against the base of the pedestal between the buttresses.
At the very top of the column stands the 24 feet (7.2 m) tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, sculpted by Rafael Atche, pointing towards the sea with his right hand, signifying his achievements in naval exploration and holding a scroll in his left hand. The low block, on which the statue is placed, is inscribed with the word ’Tierra’, which means ‘land’.
There is a lift at the base of the tower, which carry the visitors to the top of the tower, complete with a walk around viewing platform. It offers a full 360 degree unobstructed breathtaking view of Barcelona.