Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Cartagena Pays Homage to the Discoveries of Columbus

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Cartagena Pays Homage to the Discoveries of Columbus

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ellis and Malcolm Andrews

THERE aren't many ports in Spain that don't boast a giant statue of Cristobal Colon.

But who, you may ask, is Cristobal Colon - to discover that while he may be known by that name in Spain, to the rest of the world he's more well-known as Christopher Columbus.

The Spanish, however, love him by their name as much as do his Italian countrymen, and whether he had much to do with their particular port city or not - or even whether he ever visited there, for that matter - the Spanish have thrown up statues to his memory all over the place for all to admire.

And in one city, Cartagena, not one but two. Every August 3 it celebrates the anniversary of his setting sail on the first of four voyages to "discover" America, and like many ports along the Spanish Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, uses the day as an excuse to party long and hard.

Columbus was a Genoese sailor of Spanish-Jewish descent, unable to get backing from his home city Genoa or even the Italian Government to fund his dream of finding a new and quicker route to India. So for eight years he hounded Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for their support.

Every approach was met with a very curt "No," until eventually the monarchs gave in, and on August 3, 1492, Colon/Columbus sailed off from Spain's port of Palos de la Frontera with a fleet of three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina.

And while actually looking for that new route to India, central America got in his way and he banged first into what was to later become known as the Bahamas, and soon after Cuba and Hispaniola as well, finding treasures greater than could have hoped for, and returning to Spain in triumph.

And though Spain's southern coast city of Cartagena coast had little to do with all this, today it boasts two prominent statues of the explorer, one in its Old Town and the other on the foreshores of the Mediterranean.

The latter depicts a huge Columbus with right arm outstretched as if pointing across the ocean to the Americas, and while he never lived there, the locals will tell you he is important to their city because of its historic connections to the sea and the fact it's been home to the Spanish Navy since the 16th century. …

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